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Claude Debussy, Sonate pour violin et piano (1917)

Allegro vivo

Intermède. Fantasque et léger

Finale. Très animé

Moya Henderson, Three Wilderness Pieces (1988)

Cushion Plants


Serenity Sound

Elena Kats-Chernin, Sunday Rag (1997)

Margaret Sutherland, Nocturne (1944)

Maurice Ravel, Perpetuum Mobile (1927)

Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending (1914)

Claude Debussy, Sonate pour violin et piano (1917)

In 1917 with Paris under aerial bombardment, and occasional shellfire from German guns, Debussy composed his last major work, the Sonate pour Violin et Piano. He was 55 and almost at the end of a long, largely successful career. He had attended the premier of one of his operas, Pelléas et Mélissande, at Covent Garden (an opportunity enjoyed by few composers during their lifetime) and been feted for his piano music, but some of his now best known works, such as La Mer, received a mixed reaction.

Debussy set out in 1914 to write a series of 6 sonatas for various instruments, and this, the third, was the last he completed before his death from cancer the following year. Debussy was well enough in May 1917 to perform the piano part himself, it was his last public performance.

Allegro vivo

Intermède: Fantasque et léger

Finale: Très animé

Moya Henderson, Three Wilderness Pieces (1988)

Moya Henderson is one of Australia's most accomplished composers and instrument designers with a career spanning over four decades. In 2002, her opera, Lindy, was produced and presented by Opera Australia to considerable critical and popular acclaim.

Wilderness Pieces for violin and piano was commissioned by John Carmody and first performed in 1993. They were inspired by photographs by Tasmanian photographer John Dombrovskis. The three pieces are called 'Serenity Sound,''Cushion Plants,' and 'Stoppers.'

Elena Kats-Chernin, Sunday Rag (1997)

Elena Kats-Chernin is perhaps the closest a contemporary Australian composer has come to being a household name. She performed in Kangaroo Valley a few years ago playing duets alongside Tamara-Anna Cislowska, and her work is well known through frequent performance and plays on ABC radio.

Sunday Rag was composed in 1997 and exists in two versions, one for solo piano and one for piano and violin.

Margaret Sutherland, Nocturne (1944)

Margaret Sutherland was born in 1897 in Adelaide and active till her early 70’swhen her career was cut short by a stroke. Her works include a chamber opera, symphony and symphonic poem and vocal and choral works, but she is perhaps best known for her chamber works for a variety of instruments, including saxophone, flute, clarinet, cor anglais and bassoon in addition to the more obvious things.

Nocturne: violin with piano was composed in 1944.

Maurice Ravel, Perpetuum Mobile (1927)

Ravel was about 20 years older than Margaret Sutherland, born in 1875 near Biarritz in France. He is probably best known for Boléro in which repetition and dynamic development replace musical development, providing one of the most challenging pieces for a conductor.

Violin Sonata in G Major, M 77 - 3. Perpetuum mobile (Allegro). Perpetual motion is of course impossible, but you might believe Ravel broke the laws of thermodynamics after hearing this lively piece.

Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending (1914)

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in 1872, so three years older than Ravel with whom he studied in 1907/8. Ravel said he ‘…is the only one of my pupils who does not write my music.’ This piece was written in 1914 before Vaughan Williams volunteered, at the age of 42 for service initially as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Greece, later as a lieutenant in the artillery (whichultimately lead to his deafness).

Like his contemporary Percy Grainger, Vaughan Williams was a collector of folksongs many of which are incorporated in this piece. It is a piece which lends itself to nostalgia, and reflective of a love of Enlgish countryside. It was inspired by George Meredith’s poem.

He rises and begins to round,

He drops the silver chain of sound,

Of many links without a break,

In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

For singing till his heaven fills,

'Tis love of earth that he instils,

And ever winging up and up,

Our valley is his golden cup

And he the wine which overflows

to lift us with him as he goes.

Till lost on his aerial rings

In light, and then the fancy sings.

This is the original version for violin and piano. The orchestral version is now the most often performed.


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