Sonata da Chiesa-FL/OB/CL/BSN/HPSCHD
Composer: Joyce, Brian
Publisher: Cimarron Music Press
for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and harpsichord
by Brian Joyce
A four-movement work based on Christmas tunes from the 16th Century.
The Sonata da Chiesa, or church sonata was one of several new musical genres which appeared during the early to middle Baroque. At a time when much instrumental music was intended for dancing , the theater, and entertainment, the Sonata da Chiesa was more of a serious, abstract concert piece, making it the direct ancestor of the sonata as it has come down to us through Beethoven, Brahms, and Bartok. The earlier form had some distinctive features, of course. For one thing, four movements were standard, in the order slow-fast-slow-fast. For another, these sonatas were usually written for one of more melody instruments (nearly always strings) and continuo. In the present reworking of the old form, the harpsichord is more of an equal partner in the proceedings, and the woodwinds give more of a neoclassical flavor.
This sonata has taken the Italian Baroque form and based each movement on a German Christmas tune from the 16th century. Attentive ears may also notice elements from French music history, ranging from the Ars Nova to Darius Milhaud. So there is a pan-European, polystylistic blending of all sorts of things here. There is quite a bit of rule-breaking as well; perhaps that is the distinctly american contribution.