Jack Brymer premièred this work, originally called "Sopsonare", in 1973 at the American School at St. John's Wood, playing on Michael Krein's Selmer soprano saxophone. This Sonata, the first composition for saxophone by Colin Cowles, was inspired by the acquisition of a soprano saxophone whilst teaching in Hemel Hempstead in the early 1970s. Although having played on a simple system soprano as a boy, (an instrument borrowed from, and taught him by his father), this re-introduction to the instrument was to kindle a life-long love of the complete saxophone family and the composition of an almost endless 'library' of works for it at all levels. It was also at a time when the composers had made recent acquaintance with the eminent saxophonist, Peter Ripper, and had been introduced to the saxophone quartet by the recently formed London Saxophone Quartet, whose leader, Paul Harvey, was to play this Sonata, and the Elegy for Soprano Saxophone and String Orchestra. He, in fact, premiered the latter work, which Jack Brymer then played in public on a number of occasions. It was recorded by Peter Ripper with the composer at the piano at the BBC Maida Vale Studios.
It is a totally non-esoteric work, but, like so much of the composer's music, it is fun and approachable, bearing repetition without becoming tedious. The composer has always favoured the Bb saxophones (soprano and tenor), which is reflected by his output. Of particular note are: • Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra • In Memoriam for Tenor Saxophone and String Orchestra • Sonata for Tenor Saxophone and Piano • Three Bala Sketches for Tenor Saxophone and Piano.
This Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano and the Elegy for Soprano Saxophone and Strings are particular favourites of the composer.