Piano Sonata No. 1 (2015)

Solo Piano
Recording Coming Soon

Duration: 20 minutes | Composed: 2015 (Bernadette Harvey, Piano Sonatas project) | World Premiere: Sydney 2016 | Recording: Coming Soon.

In an age where our expectations of the horrors that regularly impact our society are exponentially desensitizing us towards a thoroughly numbing modern reality, a certain relief can almost be gained by looking back to the original psychological horror stories that, in their time, were the nameless and unimaginable. The King in Yellow is a tapestry of stories that, through their remarkable power of subtle intrusion into the mind, create a chilling journey around a variety of scenarios all related to a single fictional play, “The King in Yellow”. This work is all at once grisly, tender, thrilling, and disquieting.

The Demoiselle D’Ys is a story that walks a mysterious line between reality, time travel, and a spirit world. Philip, an American visiting Brittany for a hunting expedition, loses his way and encounters Jeanne D’Ys who invites him back to her castle, the Chateau D’Ys. The pair become close despite Philip’s observations that this world is recognizably strange. As they longingly embrace one another Philip is attacked and bitten by a snake which renders him unconscious. He wakes once again in ‘his’ world (reality) and shortly after stumbles across a grave marked: Jeanne D’Ys – died in her youth for love of Philip, A Stranger, AD 1573. Atop the gravestone lies a woman’s glove, still warm to the touch.

Part of the goal of this commission was to write a ‘modern’ Piano Sonata. Being a devout student of the Beethoven Sonatas I readily threw myself into writing (albeit in the shadows) a dramatic narrative that would follow the emotions as well as inherent ambiguities of the story. The first movement has three subject groups in the exposition (from my research I’ve observed that it is allowed…), a development that focuses more on the transition materials than the subject (though thematic groups do wander in and out), and a recapitulation that revisits the first subject group only.

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