composition

Sonata No. 3, “Tehillim”

for Violin and Piano

  • Genre
    Chamber
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Brian Allen
  • Year completed
    2011
  • Year revised
  • Timing
    14:30
  • Catalog number
    222
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The Sonata no. 3 for Violin and Piano, "Tehillim," was written between August 19th and September 3rd, and December 12th and 15th of 2011, other projects intervening during the interim. The subtitle, "Tehillim" is the Hebrew word for "Psalms," and the sonata sets four of the 150 canonical psalms, two each being chosen as favorites by Brian Allen, for whom the sonata was written, and myself. I have attempted to portray certain things in each of these psalms in the music. In the first movement, a setting of Psalm 121, there is an ascending line to suggest the fact that this psalm is one of those referred to as "A Song of Ascents." Additionally, the line "He will not let your foot be moved" is suggested by repeated unchanging solid chords in the piano part, as the violin wanders around above them. The second movement sets Psalm 22, containing the opening cry of agony by the psalmist, and later the Savior upon the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." Consequently, the move- ment is full of dissonant gestures portraying this agonizing outburst. The third movement depicts the lament of the people of God as they have been carried off to captivity in Baby- lon as found in Psalm 137. Contrasting this is the final movement, a setting of Psalm 103. The dance-like character of this movement remembers King David's dancing before the Ark of the Covenant as he reflects on the benefits of his relationship with his God. These include, in the words of this psalm, the forgiveness of sin (its characterization by the psalmist as being removed "as far as the East is from the West" is suggested by leaps in the violin over its entire range), the healing of diseases, the redemption of the life of the psalmist from the pit, and his being crowned with the steadfast love and mercy of his redeemer.

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