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Sonatina for violin and piano

for violin and piano

Year:  2014   ·  Duration:  8m

Year:  2014
Duration:  8m

Composer:   Robbie Ellis

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: first two pages of each movement

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I’m very glad to have received the opportunity to write for La Belle Alliance, a duo of Tessa Petersen and John Van Buskirk. These two Dunedin musicians were very supportive of my work when I held the University of Otago Mozart Fellowship in 2012: both feature on my soundtrack to Penny Ashton’s Austenian musical Promise & Promiscuity, and John performed my 2007 piece Maeve for piano and tape.

Commissioned to deliver them a piece of no more than seven minutes, I applied the semi-official rate of composer inflation to make it something more like eight. Maybe eight and a half. (Still within the standard deviation.*) Early in the writing process I settled on a classic three-movement structure – given the total expected duration, this forced me to keep my ideas tight. (-Ish.) The journey of this work resembles my 2009 Sonatina for clarinet and piano, and given that both works are equally non-programmatic, I might as well recycle the title.

The opening moves from the high, tinkly and glassy to the brassily funky. The middle movement is based on a sparse melody I created in the moment alongside actors Christine Brooks and Rik Brown in their 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival improv show. The finale is skittish and spiccato, featuring a rather quick theme that sits pretty nicely under my right hand on piano. All three movements are linked with a short bossa nova tune full of 9th chords, which gets reinterpreted according to the prevailing musical feel.

* I never studied Statistics. I’m probably using this term wrong.

I would really like to hear the [other] world premiere again.

Sonatina for Violin and Piano (2014), by Robbie Ellis, was an exciting modern three-movement work – Backbeat, Mimes' Theme and Skittish.

A challenging work to interpret, but Tessa Petersen (violin) and John van Buskirk (piano) conquered all.

High-register passages from both instruments, funky statements, a catchy bossa nova theme, lots of spiccato and extreme violin effects – all had the listener wondering what titillating aural effect would come next.

– Elisabeth Bouman, Otago Daily Times, 15 May 2014

Commissioned note

Commissioned by Tessa Petersen and John Van Buskirk with funding from Creative New Zealand.

Tessa Petersen

Contents note

I. Backbeat
II. Mimes' Theme
III. Skittish

Performance history

14 May 2014: Performed by La Belle Alliance: Tessa Petersen (violin) and John Van Buskirk (piano), at Marama Hall, in Dunedin

08 Jun 2014: Performed by La Belle Alliance: Tessa Petersen (violin) and John Van Buskirk (piano), at James Cumming Wing, in Gore

15 Jun 2014: La Belle Alliance - WHANGAREI

13 Jul 2014: Performed by La Belle Alliance: Tessa Petersen (violin) and John Van Buskirk (piano), at Old St John's, in Nelson

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