George Walker

Sonata for Violin and Piano, No. 2


The second of two sonatas for violin and piano, this work was commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for the violinist, Sanford Allen, who gave the premiere at the Kennedy Center on March 30, 1979.  The first of three movements begins with a statement by the violin alone that is followed by a brief piano cadenza in the introduction.  The principal theme, lyrically stated by the violin, is accompanied by pointillistic figurations in the piano.

The second movement begins with off-centered accentuations of repeated notes with unpredictable interjections in the piano part in a toccata-like context.  The third movement is characterized by alternating appearances of both instruments with special effects in the violin part.  Towards the end of the movement, fragments of the spiritual, "Let Us Break Bread Together", are transformed from their contemplative nature into an anguished cry.  The first performance was dedicated to the memory of the black composer, Howard Swanson.