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Piano Sonata #9: "Sonata da Caemmerer" (War Sonata #2) (solo piano)

by Michael Kieran Harvey (2023)

Work Overview

These three "war" sonatas were composed during the escalation of the 2014 war on Ukraine by Russia beginning on 24 February 2022, the largest attack on a European country since World War II. Many composers have written large works as a response to the insanity of war wielded by aggressive maniacs, a formidable example for piano being Wolpe's Battlepiece of 1943-4. Towards the end of completion of these sonatas war in the Middle East again flared. Three entities helped me negotiate this period and the deep feelings of anger, despair and sorrow I felt for the innocent victims: Peter Singer's writings, my friend and collaborator on many projects Dr Arjun von Caemmerer, and my return to the study of philosophy.

Work Details

Year: 2023

Instrumentation: Piano.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — High virtuosity required

Contents note: I. Zappaesque -- II. Rubato -- III. Giusto Tempo.

The pun in the title refers to my friend Arjun's regular visits to my studio (or room, "camera" in Italian) over many years where we would plan and implement our next collaborations. The Sonata da camera was a 17th century secular dance suite popularised by Corelli, so the use of ostinato and jazz harmonies are prevalent features of the Sonata da Caemmerer. This somewhat biographical sonata also reflects the animated discussions we would have over the Covid pandemic, climate catastrophe and the Ukraine War amongst many other subjects, not least our growing decrepitude, well mainly mine, and weekly bewilderment at the actions of humans. The spirit of one of our musical enthusiasms, Frank Zappa, permeates the score, as does his arch rival the Indophile John McLaughlin, the prime number associations linking both to Arjun's distinguished mathematical pedigree and sardonic sense of humour. Sonata #9 is in three main sections.


Performances of this work

7 Jul 2024: at The War Sonatas (Eleventh Hour Theatre). Featuring Michael Kieran Harvey.

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