Bacon: Cello Sonata; Binkerd: Piano Sonata

Bernard Greenhouse, cello; Menahem Pressler, piano; Stanley Fletcher, piano

Virgil Thomson, himself a singularly skilled practitioner of musical Americana, summed up in singularly apt fashion for The New York Herald Tribune the essence of 
Ernst Bacon’s music as he heard it in a concert devoted wholly to the composer’s work in 1946:

“Since Mr. Bacon is a very good composer indeed, one of America’s best, last night’s concert was both an interesting and a pleasant experience. . . .

“The mood and temper of Mr. Bacon’s work are chiefly a meditation on nineteenth- century rural America. He is full of our Scotch-Irish folklore, knows it from the inside, speaks and writes it as his own musical language. Mr. Bacon also has a modern musician’s knowledge of American speech cadences. . . .

“Mr. Bacon’s work is remarkably pure in its expressive intent. It communicates its meaning with a straightforward and touching humanity. It is not got up with chromium-plated cadenzas or lace-curtainlike instrumental figurations, and it poses no passionate attitude. But it is full of melody and variety . . . it at least looks backward toward an ideal and primitive America without snobbery, self-deception, or truculence. It is honest and skillful and beautiful.”


Gordon Binkerd’s Sonata for Piano is written in a brilliantly pianistic idiom solidly rooted in tonality, yet in no way reactionary. Its four movements encompass the traditional sonata design: a sonata allegro with two main subjects and development based on a transformation of the second; a deeply expressive slow movement (in ABCBA form) that confesses inspiration from the poems of William Blake; a contrapuntal scherzo that is a sort of three-part invention with trio; and an extensive finale incorporating a wide variety of dance rhythms.

“It is big and formidable and difficult,” writes Joseph Bloch in The Juilliard Review, “a piano sonata in the grand manner. Here the starting point is Stravinsky, the monumental Stravinsky of the Piano Concerto and the Capriccio, larger, more sonorous, more virtuoso than the style of most of the solo piano works. The Binkerd
Sonata adds a strong chromatic element, and the slow movement in particular abounds in marvelous colors and sounds.”

 

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Various Artists

Bacon: Cello Sonata; Binkerd: Piano Sonata

MP3/320 $9.99
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WAV $9.99
CD $12.99

Track Listing

Sonata for Cello & Piano: I. Gravely - Risoluto - Allegro
Ernst Bacon, Gordon Binkerd
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Sonata for Cello & Piano: II. Commodo
Ernst Bacon
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Sonata for Cello & Piano: III. Lento
Ernst Bacon
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Sonata for Cello & Piano: IV. Allegro, ma non troppo
Ernst Bacon
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Sonata for Piano: I. Allegro moderato
Gordon Binkerd
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Sonata for Piano: II. Andante
Gordon Binkerd
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Sonata for Piano: III. Allegro moderato
Gordon Binkerd
Buy
Sonata for Piano: IV. Allegro
Gordon Binkerd
Buy