The Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke is simply a wow piece. Written in 1919 for a viola-sonata competition at the Berkshire Festival and judged anonymously, this work tied with a sonata by Ernest Bloch. However, in the end, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge chose the Bloch.
The three movements, marked impetuoso, poco agitato; vivace; and adagio, allegro, are as difficult for the pianist as for the violist. At times the listener may think briefly of Ravel or Brouwer or even an old song, "Moon over Manikoura" or an English folk song. But overall, the work is unique and fascinating.
I particularly liked the theme of the last movement, and its treatment by both piano and viola. Clarke's ability as a composer created a sonata both challenging and interesting.
Elisabeth Papas Smith - (Waterloo, Ontario)