Lee: Violin Sonata No. 2 Premieres

Duo MemDi: Igor Kalnin, violin; Rochelle Sennet, piano

“I am pleased,” shares James Lee III “to have composed Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano for violinist Dr. Igor Kalnin and pianist Dr. Rochelle Sennet.”

On March 16, Kalnin and Sennet premiere Lee’s new 22-minute, four-movement work. Written for both instrumentalists who perform together as the Duo MemDiSonata No. 2 will premiere at Luther College’s Nobel Recital Hall in Decorah, IA.

Lee continues “I knew Dr. Sennet when we were both graduate students at the University of Michigan…Dr. Sennet approached me about composing a new sonata for violin and piano to add to the repertoire of her performing duo. The first movement is in sonata form and expresses a great range of emotions. Movement Two serves as the scherzo of the sonata — this is the only movement inspired by an extra-musical source. I have been giving piano lessons to two little girls who are sisters and before the lesson ends, I inevitably hear the question ‘Can I go now?’ I incorporated the phrase ‘Can I go?’ into a three-note motive in the violin part that is answered ‘No’ by the piano with short dry articulated chords. The movement develops this material and also presents music that describes children happy to finish a piano lesson and then running around. That running around sometimes can be perhaps too rambunctious and even cause some things to break or fall out of place. The music tends to over exaggerate this frolicking at times.

“In Movement Three, there is a nice and relaxed melody that reflects the beauty of music and is temporarily set with D as a tonal center. [The final] movement presents a playful, tour de force of a rondo. Both the violin and piano progress on this journey — which at times can be rather treacherous — as the music navigates upward to the summit. When one might think that there might be playful gestures that might end softly, the sonata drives forward to a crashing halt.” Next month, Duo MemDi reprises Sonata No. 2 on April 26 at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO.

Upcoming: Lee’s next world premiere takes place on May 4, as Delmar Freire conducts Sinfonía de Esperanza with the Peruvian Union University Orchestra in Lima, Peru.