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The Sonata for Euphonium and Piano was commissioned by the internationally renowned euphonium soloist, Adam Frey, for premiere at the International Euphonium Institute, held at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, in June of 2007. As is often the case with today’s technology, I was first introduced to Adam through a colleague by means of e-mail communication, and the creation of a new piece was discussed mostly through brief notes back and forth.
The piece is in the standard three movement presentation. The first movement is the heaviest of the three, hovering around B Minor most of the time, and experimenting with different usages of various four-note patterns. It is written as a brisk march, and harmonically evokes Mahlerian imagery with the use of a raised 7th over a minor chord. (This may be directly related to having heard of a recent Mahler Symphony No. 7 performance with which Adam was involved. Maybe not – it’s hard to say!) The second movement is a response to the disquiet raised in the first. It is the simplest of songs, meant to feature the euphonium’s elegant lyrical playing and beautiful sound. The piano part is almost minimalist mid-way through the movement, as I hoped to create tension through simplicity. The third movement is a semi-Rondo. The opening theme (antecedent / consequent) is repeated throughout, usually slightly varied, with the bulk of the movement being dedicated to an angular and disjunct digression. Generally, it is light-hearted and provides a D Major resolution to the B Minor tension presented in the 1st Movement.
Typical of sonata writing, the piano part is of equal importance, and the piece is meant to provide equal challenges and rewards for both players. It is dedicated to Adam Frey with appreciation for his continued support of contemporary composers through commissioning new works and thoughtful first-rate performances thereof.
Jim Stephenson, February, 2007