ANDREW VIOLETTE (b.1953): Cello Sonata, Clarinet Sonata.
Catalogue Number: 02Q085
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. These works are much more recent than Violette's piano sonatas, both from 2011. They seem to suggest a general shift in direction for the composer, with a greater emphasis on chamber music, and music for organ, and voices. Many of the recent pieces retain the ambitious scale that the composer was trying out with increasing assurance in his piano sonatas, but these two sonatas are of relatively modest proportions, which is to say that they would fit in a 'normal' concert program. Both are a great deal more consistently tonality-based than many of the earlier works, and while retaining a striking individuality of idiom, they spend a good deal of time in a harmonic idiom that stays within the bounds of mid-20th century post-romanticism, with pungent dissonances but stopping far short of cluster-ridden avant garde excesses. The Cello Sonata in particular is a big, powerful work, the second section a large funereal march/ elegy with an endlessly pleading, plangent cello line accompanied by increasingly dense, Messiaenic added-note harmonies. Ben Capps (cello), Moran Katz (clarinet), Andrew Violette (piano). 2012 release.