The following program note was distributed at a concert on 4 November 1986 at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Allen Sapp
The Sonata was composed in March-April, 1957, in Rome. It is part of a group of three Sonatas for Piano, II, III, and IV, composed during a year of creative work during a sabbatical from Harvard University where the composer was Assistant Professor of Music, assisted by a Howard Foundation Fellowship from Brown University. Unlike the Second Sonata fashioned somewhat in the manner and design of a Baroque Suite and the Third with its echos of middle-period Beethoven, the Fourth Sonata is moving away from the neo-classic position into a decidedly Romantic, strongly personal idion. It is in three movements, first an energetic Allegro with two strongly contrasting textures in an arch form, the second a lyrical and episodic soliloquy for the most part with disruptive interjections, and the third is a light and witty set of variations moving back to the moods of the two previous movements at intervals and recapitulating some materials.

It was performed first in Sanders Theater, Cambridge, in 1959 by Norma Sapp, again in Buffalo by Stephen Manes, and once as an adjunct to the THOMAS JAMES KELLY lectures given by the composer in 1979 at Cincinnati. This marks its first public concert performance in Cincinnati. The tonal area of the Fourth Sonata is D, usually expressed by the dyad D-F. The secondary area is B-flat – linked often to D through the persistent F. The first movement concludes unequivocally with a triad D-F-A and the final movement with D-F#-A; the second movement being emphatically in B-flat. If there is a centrifugal interval it is the third out of which the harmonic fabric is woven. There are many instances throughout of a melodic contour spread out over a large range, moved from the single to the multiple plane as it were. The effort to fuse serial processes into a coherent harmonic stream based on acoustic imperatives which marks this work has continued as the basic working mode of the composer to this day.

Allen Sapp
Nov. 4, 1986″

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