Piano Sonata No. 4 : Delicate games
by Colin Spiers (1995)
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Library shelf no. 786.2183/SPI 5 [Available for loan]
This work is the fourth in a series of five single-movement piano sonatas that can be performed as a set in a recital lasting approximately two hours (including a twenty-minute interval). In this case the first three would be performed in the first half of the concert, while the final two would be performed in the second half. This aside, it should be noted that they can, of course, function as standalone works. The single-movement structure was inspired by the example of Scriabin's last five sonatas, although each approaches this in completely different ways.
The fourth sonata is by far the most substantial, lasting nearly half-an-hour. In this work the mood shifts from the dark, dramatic and emotionally balanced moods of the first three to a supercharged atmosphere of ecstasy. Thus, dramatic development is replaced with a sensed of static contemplation, created by repeating patterns of 'endless' semiquavers. The subtitle ("Delicate Games") may be viewed as functioning on the twin levels of 'fact' and 'irony' in that the games describe the intricate technical patterns of the piece (sometimes delicate, but often very robust), and the state of ecstasy itself where the sense of time is suspended in a playful, even mocking manner, given that the music is anything but straightforward to perform. The work is dedicated to the memory of the composer's aunt, Elizabeth Smith, someone who was a firm believer in the ecstasy of the afterlife.
Duration: 20 min.
Dedication note: "To the memory of my aunt, Elizabeth Mary Smith [1919-1992]"
Performances of this work
1996: Newcastle Conservatorium, NSW. Featuring Colin Spiers.
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