Sonata No. 2 (2017)
Instrumentation: Alto saxophone and piano
Commissioned by: Andrew Hutchens
Program Note: Sonata No. 2 for alto saxophone and piano, written fourteen years after my first, was commissioned by and dedicated to Andrew Hutchens. Its four movements (performed without pause) are named after and loosely inspired by the four successive sections of a waveform: Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release (the so-called ADSR envelope). I enjoyed the idea of a 12-minute sonata being an amplified version of a single sound signal. Through continuous and hyperactive variation, all movements share the same musical material (though this may be difficult to perceive on an initial listening). The principal motivic idea of a tritone followed by a perfect fifth is presented in the opening measures and recurs throughout the sonata in various guises. The emotional content of the composition is rather aggressive, bleak, agitated, bitter, and pessimistic - a narrative not intended by me while composing but rather was revealed toward the end of the creation process. Attempts at peace and beauty are thwarted by savage interruptions. Perhaps this is a subconscious reflection of our troubled times.