top of page

Op. 21 - Sonata

for Two Celli


00:00 / 00:00

Program Notes: The Sonata for Two Celli was commissioned by the Glendale Philharmonic as a part of their Positive Motions concert series in the spring of 2010. Cast in three movements, the Sonata immediately sets a jazz and rhythmic tone. The first movement, Serenade Fantasy, begins with a rhythmic idea that can be found throughout the entire work and hints at the thematic material to come. Folk-like elements seep into the main melody which goes through various rhythmic variations and character changes. After a soaring melody in a woozy Spanish-esque impression, the theme re-enters in a light and syncopated ragtime before reaching its height of virtuosity and intensity and the movement comes to a close. The second movement, Scherzo Humoresque, opens with a quirky and beguiling chromatic passage that pizzicatos its way into the main sempre theme. The playful yet grotesque theme is regularly interrupted with bursts of ponticello chromaticism before coming back as if nothing had happened. A slower middle section features the first cello in a nostalgic melody in the instruments upper register while the second cello accentuates the theme with a harmonic accompaniment not as predictable as the theme might suggest. The music then descends into harmonic stability before a re-energized version of the theme emerges. Hints at the opening movement prevail until the movement ends on a whimsical and understated note. Burlesque opens with an exchange of repeated notes and jazz-infused riff that immediately propels the movement forward and sets an energetic mood. The tempestuous theme, excerpted from the previous movements, acts as a mobile perpetuum, constantly running through jazz scales and motives over a syncopated accompaniment from the second cello. A reminder of the opening makes way for a walking bassline with a twist to the theme with regular interjections of rhythmic instability. Material from the first movement acts as a transition to a swanky blues theme from the second cello with quasi-guitar pizzicato chords accompanied on the first cello before re-visiting the tempestuous theme and racing to the pieces’ exciting conclusion.

Performance History:

-May 8th, 2010; II. Scherzo Humoresque- Glendale Philharmonic; Glendale, California – 7:30PM


George N. Gianopoulos


bottom of page