Piano Sonata 4: India (2013-2014) by Hugh Waldock

Bench at Walton on the Naze Essex
Piano sonata 4 opening
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Introduction

This sonata was written for a friend with whom I had a one night stand. I invited her round and adorned the room with fairy lights and a heart and stuck on the computer with some Bruch and Brahms violin concertos. She was a string player like me and I don’t think she’d heard them before and we made love for about two hours. I deliberately left a score of Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) by Schumann on the piano and she asked me to translate the ‘Wenn ich in deine Augen Seh'!’ As I look into your eyes, number 7:

As I look into your eyes
So all the passion and pain dissipates
And as I kiss your lips
I become wholly and completely well again If I lean on your bosom
I’m overcome with heavenly desire
But if you say I love you
Then I am bound to cry bitterly
(Heinrich Heine as quoted in A Poet’s Love by Schumann, R, Translation Waldock, H)

She held my hand and drew circles on it with her thumb and we stood up and kissed and she was so light as a feather she jumped up on me and wrapped her legs around me I spun her round twice and threw her on the bed. After which we loved each other for about two hours. It was a fairly tale encounter and I couldn’t have asked for more. After which I gave her a book of my poetry I’d had printed.

Sonata number four was the first sonata when I started to believe I had talent. It’s almost twice the length of the first three. Coming in at around 12:30 but isn’t the longest. The first movement is the longest and is a sort of embryonic sonata form. That’s to say I hadn’t quite mastered sonata form yet because the first section and last section are more or less exact repeats, but they are wonderfully powerful and interesting in themselves and the middle section hadn’t been done in any of the other sonatas.

Agitato

The opening movement is in C major. It begins with a rising bouquet of semiquavers followed by a descending arpeggio figure which I stole from the final movement of Dichterliebe Die alte bösen Lieder (The Old Evil Songs) by Robert Schumann. There is then another rising figure and then a phrase which uses oblique motion roughly staying on the same note with a top Eb at the beginning. Then the whole process repeats itself in the C minor (tonic minor) until bar 36. In this section the bass largely doubles the top part either singly or quadrupled with harmony only at cadence points. The cadence at the end of bar 36 is a Piccardy third again in C major. So apart form the major / minor alternance it’s pretty much all in C until bar 36. India was powerful and confident with me despite being a lot younger and opening reflects that side of her personality.
Then comes a bridging section beginning on B there is another sweeping scale like figure but in this instance it is preceded by a scale that passes between the left and right hand the purpose of which is to modulate to the supertonic key of B major for the second set of thematic material. There is an enharmonic change and a melody and accompaniment section inspired by an earlier song of mine called ‘hippiedom’, a protest song about David Cameron ending hippiedom and making us respect everyone again like in the 1950s. This section is marked cantabile and cadences in E major. In bar 89. The whole of the exposition is then repeated. In the B section the arpeggiated Schumann figure returns. It consists of a semi- quaver and quaver then a rest repeated three times as a descending arpeggio beginning this time on C. It descends down a major second as an exact sequence and then followed by a related cadential figure culminating in a cadence in G in bar 99. In the left hand comes a variant on the sweeping scale figure form the first section. Then the second theme comes in accompanied by some Alberti bass like figures and a scale in the interlude in bars 106-107. The sweeping scale figure from the first section comes into the right hand in crotchets accompanied by an Albert bass. The presence of the leading note G sharp in bar 107 (suggesting a pivot chord in E perhaps) and sets up a smooth modulation through A Minor to a cadence in E at bar 121 with no harmony just triple octaves for a bare and powerful effect. Then there are then a series of modulations with the first half of the sweeping scale figure in crotchets tempo down a major second every time so that we end up in G in Bar 141 at the start of the recapitulation. This section is exactly the same as the exposition but for one coda at the end that finishes the piece of in F major in a way highly reminiscent of Mozart or Haydn, but not exactly the same from bar 230 onwards. The overall structure of the movement lasting about 6:30 mins is

Exposition = A / B / A1 / B1/ C / D Development = E / F / and G
Recapitulation = A / B / A1 / B1/ C / + coda.

3 Part Invention (Symphonie) With fluidity

This is a designed as a three part Bach invention like movement beginning with a fugal entry in the right hand on E, which passes into the left for a repeat in the dominant key of B. It then modulates to the dominant of the dominant F as is customary in a fugue when it appears in the right hand again and the bass falls away to reveal a contrapuntal 2 part texture with quaver passing notes and descending quaver runs such as in bar 253 and 254 designed to give the movement more rhythmic interest.

The thematic matieral dissolves entirely as the quaver runs pass into the right hand than then you get similar motion in both hands doubling the melody in thirds over a pedal in the bass on E to produce a kind of augmented tonal effect and this little section cadences on a B7 chord in bar, 268. There is then a short section of descending arpeggios that pass between the right down into the bass in the left hand imitating each other in sequence after which the similar motion up and down figure from the beginning of the second section returns over a bass pedal returns in various different keys before we arrive in the dominant of the dominant F major in bar 278 and the middle section ends with a coda sequence in thirds cadencing into the dominant B major with a long pause for breath. The first section with the fugal like entries repeats this time doubled in the left hand and with added pedal notes throughout. Instead of repeating the middle section when the quaver runs start when the theme dissolves away in bar 303 it leads into a florid coda with a with a final cadenza including demisemiquaver rhythms and cadencing on the tonic with a tierce da Picardie.

Variation and 2 Part Fugue (with 5 Variations)

Despite it being a fairly short movement and raw in terms of technique this is one of my favourite movements of mine because it’s so lively and has a real building up and falling away of tension like a curve of feminine passion with the highpoint of emotional intensity in the middle to three quarters of the way through and falling away at the end yet still maintaining interest until the final note decays. Despite it’s technical impurity I find it kind of attractive and flirtatiously sexy. It’s kind of musically innocent, yet emotionally advanced. It’s raw compositional talent, because it works as a piece grammatical warts and all and says something to me without be too influenced. It really is an old head on young shoulders that was India and I find it inexorably sweet having listened to it many times. It begins with a Bach like theme in the right hand. This lasts for 8 bars with a 1 beat anacrusis in 3 /4 which magically disappears in the second variation when it changes to 4 /4 half way through which shouldn’t happen from a technical point of view and is an error of copy pasting which I liked and kept in.
Variation two of the melody is in two-part counterpoint starting and cadencing in G. The third variation is homophonic octaves, the fourth in fifths and the 5th in sixths with added semi-quaver ornamentation.Then there is a little presto section with the return of the Alberti bass from the first movement that gives variation on the theme as well as harmony. Maybe this could be classed as a sixth variation but it could be classed as a related subsection in itself. I’ll leave that interpretation up to you. It could be even be considered a variation which is as closely related to the development section of movement one as it is to the thematic material
of this third movement. It ends with the same sort of rhythm four semiquavers in oblique motion on D tripled in both hands one octave apart and a long note at the end. It cadences incidentally on the dominant in D. This leads into the little fugue with a slight fall away of tension before the build up to the final climax. One could consider the end of the subsection as one climax in the piece and the other about 3 quarters of the way through the fugue before the final statement of the theme in the right hand again as in the beginning. I feel that’s very reminiscent of feminine sexuality which is different to a man’s and underrepresented in music. It shows sympathy and understanding to have written it as a man and I’m quite proud of it. The fugal entries are imitative but not perfect. There is evidence of the use of so called leap frogging which I learned for my grade 8 theory exam around that time in the trio sonata question and this leads towards a relishing yet fun four part homophonic climax in the right hand couple with a doubling of the bass in the left. I learned the doubling of the bass from playing German student beer songs in my academic fraternity in Cologne in 2010, if you don’t just double but triple the octave it gives the music immense power without necessarily leading to a consecutive medieval like sound. The climax ends with long pause before the theme is restated almost as a post love making chill, being both spent and reheated.

article submitted by:Hugh Waldock, Waldock, Hugh