ANDREW VIOLETTE (b.1953): Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 and 7.
Catalogue Number: 02Q083
Description: Andrew Violette is an unique figure in contemporary music, strangely under-acknowledged despite the multiple strengths of his music; its bold and exhilarating originality; its sheer variety and scope of expression; its ready accessibility despite his refusal to compromise in respect of certain characteristics that ought to make it the exclusive preserve of a very few dedicated specialists. His musical journey has been a very personal one, documented through an evolving style that lays bare the development of a complex personality with almost embarrassing intimacy, while simultaneously inviting the contemplation of profound truths on an universal scale. Violette started out with impeccable modernist credentials, counting such luminaries as Sessions, Carter, Luening and Boulez among his early teachers or occasional guides. He went through various stages of avant-gardism of various kinds, serialism and other -isms, before arriving at the early stages of development of his personal style in the late 1970s. A bona fide composer-pianist in the grand tradition, he writes formidably difficult music for his own instrument with a sure and thorough knowledge of what he's doing, and performs it with complete technical command. The epic Seventh Sonata feels like a summing-up of the (still relatively young at the time; it was written in 2001) composer's pianistic philosophy - and may very well have been, as he seems to have stopped writing piano sonatas since, and while continuing an impressively prolific output, to have moved somewhat in other directions. The work lasts three hours, and is divided into twenty-six sections. The diverse stylistic elements that had come to the fore in successive previous works are not so much unified here as invited to coexist in a vast, all-encompassing musical universe. Stately religious chorales and chant, frequently clothed in the richest Romantic harmony, elements of process music, Messiaenic harmonies, complex polyrhythms, ostinati, hugely extended meandering melody, pounding clusters (but only occasionally now, as though as to say; I can still do this stuff, you know!) - all the techniques that had emerged, taken center stage and then temporarily retired in earlier works are now examined at leisure in this gloriously hyper-maximalistic traversal of human consciousness, from the sensual to the spiritual. 3 CDs. Andrew Violette (piano). 2003 release.