THE COMPLETE PIANO SONATAS OF VINCENT PERSICHETTI: A RECORDING DISSERTATION
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This recording dissertation aims to expose the twelve piano sonatas of Vincent Ludwig Persichetti (1915-1987) which have never been recorded as a complete set. Vincent Persichetti is considered as one of the America's most influential and prolific composers of the twentieth-century. He was admired not only as a virtuoso pianist, composer, and conductor, but also as a lucid theorist-teacher with nearly encyclopedic knowledge of music by other composers. His piano compositions-- including two solo concertos, twelve sonatas, three volumes of Poems, six sonatinas, etudes, and works for piano four-hand and duo pianos as well as other smaller solo piano works--were written throughout his fifty-eight years of productive compositional career and are representative of Persichetti's varied styles. His piano sonatas, in particular, stand out as the most significant among his piano compositions; and as a set, they provide a cross section of his eclectic language, exhibiting his firm grasp of keyboard technique as well as his thorough knowledge of traditional and twentieth-century compositional styles. Unfortunately, a large portion of his solo piano music has never been recorded, and many of the works that have been recorded are not available today. As for the twelve sonatas, it has never been recorded as a set, and only the Third Piano Sonata is available on compact disc. It is ironic that his works for piano, the instrument he showed most affinity to, have not received the due recognition in today's performing scenes except for a few exceptions of two-piano works and some of the smaller works such as the Poems and etudes. It is strongly hoped that the recording of the twelve piano sonatas will heighten the public awareness of the work of this important American composer and to inspire more pianists to incorporate his music into their repertoire. In preparation for the recording, general research on his biography and sampling of recordings available of the composer's works for both piano and other instruments were done in order to better understand his compositional style and the significance of the piano sonatas, after which the written document was prepared to accompany this recording dissertation. The written document includes an introductory chapter with pertinent biographical information and background of his compositional philosophy, as well as the discussion of the sonatas. The sonatas are discussed individually except for instances where it is more suitable to be discussed in groups, highlighting the stylistic traits, placing them in the context of his life when appropriate, and searching for the common threads amongst the seemingly bewildering assortment of styles. The chapter entitled Observations Through Performance includes a commentary based on practical observations taken during the process of learning and performing the sonatas. The appendix lists the piano sonatas with movement titles, year of composition, and premiere information. The twelve sonatas were recorded in four recording sessions of three hours each, scheduled approximately a month apart. The ordering and pairing of the sonatas for the recording sessions were decided with careful consideration to the length, difficulty, and physical and mental stamina required for each sonatas to ensure efficient use of time. For the finished CDs, the sonatas are presented according to the chronological order of composition. The recording took place at the Joseph and Alma Gildenhom Recital Hall at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park during the following dates: December 22, 2003, January 24, 2004, March 4, 2004, and March 25, 2004. Antonino Maria Paolo D'Urzo, of the Opusritetm Audio Productions was engaged for the producing, recording and editing of this dissertation recording.