This work is dedicated to the composer’s piano teacher, Rosemary Miller Stott. It is in three contrasting movements. The first, an allegro, is in sonata form, and features nervous, darting ideas which become more animated in the middle section. The second movement opens with a chorale-like theme, expressing feelings of nostalgia. The fidgety middle section builds up more tension, before being combined with the chorale theme. The finale releases the tensions of the earlier movements, and has a happy, sunny character. Initially inspired by a Beethoven sonata, the rondo theme builds up to a big climax before ending quietly.
Piano Sonata 1988 (opus 29) was written when the composer was Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago.
The Sonata for Violin and Piano is in one movement of five contrasting sections. It dates from 1950 and was composed for two well-known musicians: the violinist was Ruth Pearl, from England, who had settled here shortly after the Second World War and was for some time the leader of the Lindsay String Orchestra; and pianist was Frederick Page, for many years professor of Music at Victoria University. These artists performed the work throughout New Zealand and took it on tour for the Chamber Music Federation. Even now it remains the one sonata for violin and piano by a New Zealand composer that is heard with any frequency.
“During two years of study in Rome, with Petrassi at the Conservatorio di Santa, I had scholarships to attend the famous summer school at the Academia Chigiana in Siena. During the second one in 1955, this sonata was composed in the space of ten days and performed by the New York pianist Leonard Mastrogiacomo (first two movements) and his fiancee Eleanor (last movement). The same two pianists performed the work in Rome shortly afterwards.”
The Sonata has been performed by Gordon Watson, Malcolm Binns ad Margaret Kitchin on the BBC.
The Blue Sonata, for Cello and Piano was commissioned by Euan Murdoch, with funding from Creative New Zealand, for performance by Euan and pianist, Terence Dennis. It is in four movements: I – Grave – Andante energico II – Allegretto III – Adagio mesto IV – Allegro vigoroso