Dedicated to his parents, Corigliano’s sonata was written in 1962-63 and won the 1964 Festival of Two Worlds prize for chamber music. While mostly tonal, the work includes non-tonal and poly-tonal techniques plus 20th century harmonic and rhythmic structures.
Belen first encountered this sonata in 2011 with a longtime friend and collaborator of hers, pianist Jennie Jung. On her performance with Jung, Belen recalled “the explosive clash of the final bars of the last mvmt echoing in the hall that hot summer, and the audience of eager students jumping to their feet with excitement, as if just getting off a roller coaster.”
When Corigliano visited New York’s Luzerne Music Center, Belen had the opportunity to perform for him with pianist Cynthia Elise Rodgers. “He shared some very personal thoughts about the piece with us,” Belen told us. “And also signed my iPad score, which I cherish every time I perform it!”
The sonata is highly rhythmic and changes meters in almost every measure; for both the violin and piano, there are frequent independent rhythms. The piece was initially titled “Duo,” and according to Corigliano, it “therefore obviously treats both instruments as co-partners.”
“I can’t think of this piece without immediately recalling all the incredible pianists I’ve been fortunate to work with over the years,” Belen said. “In each partnership, every slightly different turn of phrase, we unified our vision of the piece. Without realizing it at the time, this sonata and those collaborators have significantly shaped the musician I am today,” she reflected.
Belen is also the artistic director of Center Stage Strings and previously served on the faculty of the Colburn School. Her students have won prizes at the Stulberg and Klein international string competitions.
Pianist Mi-Eun Kim, also a teacher at Center Stage Strings, is a scholar researching Beethoven while also performing all his piano works. To Belen, Kim’s “ear for detail and character shows itself when she plays contemporary music as well, and I absolutely love sharing the stage with her.”
The sonata’s four movements performed by Belen and Kim can be watched below:
JOHN CORIGLIANO | SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO | MVT I. ALLEGRO | DANIELLE BELEN | MI-EUN KIM | 2021
JOHN CORIGLIANO | SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO | MVT II. ANDANTINO | DANIELLE BELEN | MI-EUN KIM | 2021
JOHN CORIGLIANO | SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO | MVT III. LENTO, QUASI RECITATIVO | DANIELLE BELEN | MI-EUN KIM | 2021
JOHN CORIGLIANO | SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO | MVT IV. ALLEGRO | DANIELLE BELEN | MI-EUN KIM | 2021