Philip Ashworth (Photo by Justin Ward)
Philip Ashworth – Air (companion piece to Beethoven sonata in C Minor Op.30 No. 2)
The challenge of writing a companion piece is an exciting prospect; how might one set about composing a new work that is at once both able to stand up as an independent piece in its own right, and yet also relate to another composition? Beethoven is a master of material, not just in creating motifs pregnant with possibility, but in the way in which these motifs are handled and deployed to shape a convincing musical dialogue.
My starting point was looking at the way Beethoven integrates the two players in the C minor sonata, how material is shared between them to create a work where both piano and violin are equal partners, with neither given a more prominent role.
Air is so named as I felt that indeed air should be the only thing between the players. There are two main strands of motif at work in this piece; the first, a rhythmic idea set out immediately by the piano; the second, a short melodic cell consisting of a minor second and first heard when the violin enters. These motifs are combined and expanded upon so as to create the sense of an extended melody. I wanted also to acknowledge the formal design of Beethoven’s music, and so I created a structure inspired in part by sonata form – two elements combined, developed and recapitulated.
The work eventually finds a home in a C tonality, in preparation for the proceeding C minor sonata. Philip Ashworth
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