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Sonata : Music grave and gay : for oboe or soprano saxophone and piano

by John Carmichael (2010)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Stephen Robinson, Antony Gray from the CD Escapades

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Escapades / chamber music by John Carmichael.

Library shelf no. CD 2744 [Not for loan]

Sonata: Music grave & gay


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Work Overview

When Stephen Robinson contacted me with a view to commissioning a work for oboe & piano I deemed myself to be a very lucky composer; I had
heard his CD Bright Vessel in which several other Australian composers had their works displayed at their very best.
Stephen did not stipulate or insist on any particular musical form for this work; he generously gave me permission to let my imagination take me
wherever it led, but he did mention that he did not want the oboe type-cast only as eminently suited to music in a pastoral style. He hoped that I would explore other facets and characteristics of the instrument.
Accordingly I searched for melodic material of a highly contrasted nature - lively, sober, calm, energetic etc., and then, quite early on, a quote I had heard from Alexander Pope in his Essay On Man - 'from grave to gay' gave me both the title and the focus for what I wanted to write. - a piece which explores a wide variety of moods, and allows the oboe to display how it can be grave, gay, dynamic, lyrical, and even pastoral !
In the 1st mvt. oboe and piano echo each other's statements until they lead each other into darker territory and a cadenza based on the opening descending scale which returns in up-beat mode in the final section.
In the slow mvt. there are two centres of gravity - the first sober, somewhat forlorn, the second - aspiring and lyrical; they alternate and there is an uneasy truce between the two, unresolved in the final bars.
After a boisterous start, in the final Allegro piano and oboe insult each other, the piano rudely interrupting the oboe's happy musings until a cadenza
gives the latter the upper hand ; an 'anything you can do I can do better' contest ensues until oboe pronounces itself the winner.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Oboe (or soprano saxophone), piano.

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Sylvie Leprohon, Stephen Robinson.

First performance: by Stephen Robinson, Anthony Halliday — 17 Jul 10. Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London

Title taken from: 'From grave to gay’ from An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope, 1688 -1744


Performances of this work

Unknown date.

17 Jul 10: Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London. Featuring Stephen Robinson, Anthony Halliday.

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