Program Notes for Sonata for violin and Piano, "Celtic Wedding."
The Sonata for Violin and Piano was commissioned by Pacific Serenades in 1990 and received its premiere in the spring of 1991 with Yukiko Kamei and violin soloist, accompanied by Ayke Agus. The piece is one of a series pieces, starting with the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano, inspired by Anglo-Celtic folk melodies. This piece uses the basic tune of a wedding song from Brittany, made popular by The Chieftains. It is cast in a five-movement form, much like the cello sonata, with a large slow movement as the keystone (Movement III). In this case there are two Entr'actes flanking that movement and two outer sonata-like movements to complete the arch.
The wedding tune appears as a high, distant memory in the first movement and does not really emerge in its complete form at any time in the piece. Rather, it is the canvas on which the piece is "painted." There are also subsidiary materials that are transplanted between the movements, so that a total thematic unity is the result. The most striking example is the coda of the slow movement, a dead march, which reappears in the Finale with much more extended developmental treatment.
Tonality is used throughout the piece as an enlargement and extension of the possibilities
of the old tune, much in the way that Baroque composers extended the tonal implications of
Plainchant and Lutheran melodies which formed the basis of so many chorales and chorale preludes.
Paul Reale, November, 1997.