Sonata No. 2 (Evocations of Reedley, California, Mid-Century), by Larry Warkentin

January 6, 2015

This is the premier recording of Sonata No. 2 by Larry Warkentin. The composer served for many years as chair of music at Fresno Pacific University in California. Warkentin and I planned a project together in which I would perform his new piece on the campus of his institution. Our plans eventually led to the debut performance. The local critic commented as follows.

“Warkentin's Sonata consists of four movements, each featuring a different hymn tune employed as a small part of the musical material. The first movement recalled Charles Ives' use of hymn tunes by employing fragments rather than long quotations. The third movement set a melodic line consisting of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale against a comparatively tonal accompaniment. This produced a hauntingly beautiful dissonance.”

Subtitled “Evocations or Reedley, California, Mid-Century”, the composition echoes Charles Ives’ proclivity to find musical inspiration from within the daily activity of the community. Warkentin wrote, “It was not my intention to write a sonata based on hymn tunes. But as I worked on the music I would suddenly find myself recognizing a tune fragment in the musical ideas I was working with. Many of these tunes I have not sung in church for years… I was almost surprised that I could still remember many of the words and all of the melodies. So when a melody emerged I decided to enjoy it.”

Warkentin commented further. “The dissonances introduce the test of faith. If someone says they do not like the dissonant passages, I would agree to a certain extent. We don’t usually appreciate the challenges of life, the tests of faith, but God seems to think they are important and necessary. They make us stronger and they make the moments of peace much more beautiful.”

Each movement presents, in various guises, tunes from the community of Warkentin’s youth. The first movement features Rock of Ages, the second Just As I Am, the third Alas, and Should My Savior Bleed, and the finale Old Rugged Cross. This recording was made in the Recital Hall at Cedarville University.

Recording Date:  March 13, 2002 
Recording Location:  Cedarville, Ohio
Ensemble Type:  Solo Piano
Duration: 0:23:25
Performers: John Mortensen, Piano

About the Music

Composer: Larry Warkentin
Instrumentation: Solo Piano
Place of Composition: Fresno, California
Date Composed: c. 2000
Place First Performed: Fresno Pacific University
Date First Performed:  April 15, 2002
Music Styles:  Modernist, Polyrhythmic/complex meters, Serialism, Tonal/modal

Sonata No. 2 (Evocations of Reedley, California, Mid-Century) 1st Movement 


Sonata No. 2 (Evocations of Reedley, California, Mid-Century) 2nd Movement 


Sonata No. 2 (Evocations of Reedley, California, Mid-Century) 3rd Movement 

Sonata No. 2 (Evocations of Reedley, California, Mid-Century) 4th Movement 

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