Among the late fairy tales of George MacDonald is a story called the History of Photogen and Nycteris, which concerns two children born to different mothers, sequestered from each other by the wolf-witch Watho, and raised in opposite ways: Nycteris knew only of night, Photogen only of day. Each, however, retained a trait of the other’s mother, and so in a strange way they were intersected at birth, destined to cross paths again out of the desire to know the other’s world.
This modest Sonatina, as a simple analog to this story, is arranged in two movements: One very slow, evenly pulsed and melancholy, the other quick, bright and almost shackled to the upper register until its very end. Though opposite on their surfaces, they share a single motive that underpins much of their harmonic motion, a perfect fifth from A to E moving inward to a third from B-flat to D. In the first movement, the move is from the third outward to the fifth; in the second, from the fifth inward—each is reflected in the other. The piece on the whole is quite traditional and, with the exception of the bipartite form, almost neoclassic, something which is a departure for me.
I give my sincere thanks to the Music Teachers Association of America for the commissioning of this work, and to pianist Vincent Adragna for agreeing to premiere the piece even though he had no time.