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Canzone di Pedrolino (Sonata for 'Cello and Vibraphone)

Duration: 4 mins 30 secs approx.

Composer's Note

The initial inspiration for this piece was Debussy's Sonata for 'Cello and Piano and its evocation - particularly in the pizzicati of the Sérénade - of the figure of Pierrot. Commedia dell'arte, from which Pierrot, and his ancestor, Pedrolino are stock characters, has long interested me as a composer, and in this piece I looked to channel the amorous yet melancholy Pedrolino. Musically his character is re-created by the 'cello; its angular, post-Romantic melodies representing the ardent side to his personality, whilst the pizzicato moments (references to the Debussy) depict his inner conflict. The music slows gradually throughout its five minute timeframe, as we journey from our first impressions of Pedrolino as an animated figure, to our realisation that, ultimately, he his innately unhappy.


Divided into four short sections, the music flows as if in one movement, wearing its subtitle of 'sonata' lightly. In this respect, my own piece has - to my mind at least - a stronger connection with the music of Satie, a composer greatly admired by Debussy. A teacher of mine once commented that Satie's Gymnopédies 'could be played in any order', and I think the same is almost true of my sonata which, like Gymnopédies, maintains a hypnotic 3 / 4 time throughout its duration, whilst the cyclical harmonies of the vibraphone further contribute to the sense of stillness. Against this, the 'cello part is intended to sound as if improvised – a quality in music that Debussy himself expressed an appreciation of.

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