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Sonata for violin and piano no. 1

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Andante-Allegro – Scherzo – Andante – Allegro vivace

The Violin Sonata no.1 is Godard’s first work, composed in 1866 at the age of seventeen. The work’s dedication is to the violinist and ‘friend’ of the composer Richard Hammer, who taught Godard and his sister when they were children. It starts with an Andante introduction, which states in duple time the thematic material of the passionately expressive triple-time Allegro that will follow. The entire movement is based on the alternation between these two sections with their contrasting metres and tempos. The second movement opens with a thundering unison from the two instruments, which present fortissimo a motif characterised by its concise dotted rhythm that will irrigate the whole of this Scherzo; aside from this energetic motif, the movement derives its variety from the bold dynamic contrasts of nuances that punctuate the discourse. In the Andante in A flat major, first the piano, then the violin state a highly expressive, richly harmonised melody that suggests Schumann’s influence on Godard. The Allegro vivace that concludes the sonata features a first theme with jagged contours. The second theme, presented on the piano over a pedal point in the violin part, is characterised by its dactylic rhythm, which this time recalls the style of Schubert (notably, in a quite different context, the second movement of the ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet). This first sonata already contains many of the qualities that will recur throughout Godard’s output: lyricism, harmonic refinement and dramatic ambition – and a pronounced taste for German music, excluding that of Wagner.


publication date : 25/09/23

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