The Sonata for Piano was commissioned in 1983 by the Music Teachers National Association. It was premiered in that year by brilliant pianist, Gary Amano. The Sonata for Piano was masterfully recorded in Bratislava, Slovakia by Elenorora Slanicova.
The first movement, labeled “forcefully” then “allegro con fuoco,” is in traditional sonata/allegro form, with an introduction that explodes with accented opening tall chords, and an exposition that has been called “cinematic” in its presentation of thematic material. The development begins slowly and builds to an energetic recapitulation, where the themes are telescoped together in a simultaneous presentation, leading to a punctuated final statement.
The second movement, a pensive largo, begins with dark chromatic clusters in the low register. The careful setting of the sostenuto pedal before the movement begins allows selected tones to continue to ring after other notes in the cluster are released. Pentatonic shimmers follow, leading to further cluster-release moments. The central moments in the movement are comprised of an almost chorale-like section, culminating in chords that reach the two extreme ends of the keyboard. The movement is palindromic in form, with the central chordal statement being followed by pentatonic scalar motion, and finally, deep clusters.
The third movement, a high-energy allegro molto, begins with a motif that is characterized by expanding intervallic relationships. This motif becomes the basis for much of the movement. An ostinato-like figure in the left hand accompanies a jagged melodic statement in the right hand. The musical material becomes fragmented and is reworked in various ranges and superimpositions. The energy briefly becomes more pensive, then progresses into a flurry of motivic clashes, culminating in a fiery con moto conclusion.
"Marden Pond's concise three-movement sonata offers jazz-flavored energy. . . ."
Lawrence Johnson, Fanfare Magazine.
"Marden Pond (b 1950) from Utah contrasts direct and romantic material with slow-movement tone clusters in his six-minute Sonata. . . ."
American Record Guide.
"Though compact in size . . . this is a 'big sounding' piece, replete with spacious sonorities and exciting bravura passagework." ". . . propulsive force unleashed by the motivic interplay, and it soon accelerates into a powerful conclusion." "The finale is a muscular allegro molto toccata whose sense of relentlessly uncoiling energy is mirrored in the chromatically expanding intervals of its opening eight-note motive."
Mark L. Lehman