SMALL ENSEMBLE CHAMBER - Sonata Humana (1991) Program Notes
Derek Bermel - Sonata Humana (1991) for bass clarinet and piano
I) This Beautiful Earth
Sonata Humana was written in 1990-91, after returning from studying orchestration and ethnomusicology in Israel with André Hajdu. At the time I was making a musical transition, from being heavily influenced by the composers Olivier Messiaen and Bela Bartók to a more personal, American sound inspired by George Gershwin and Thelonious Monk. A bass clarinetist friend had requested a new piece from me, but upon viewing the score turned ashen and declared it 'unplayable'. He was correct, until it was premiered four years later in Ann Arbor, by Robert Tuttle and Lynn Kompass, and performed many times subsequently by Kevin Schempf and Robert Satterlee, among others. The three movements are distinct in character, but the same melodic material permeates the entire piece, brought to the fore at the beginning of the second movement.