WINTER BRANCHES: A Sonata for Cello and Piano was commissioned by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild in 1986. The work was premiered in Raleigh, North Carolina February, 1987 by the Green/Moyer Duo and was subsequently performed at Williams College in April, 1987 by Douglas Moore and Doris Stevenson.
The title WINTER BRANCHES refers to both poetic images and the concept of one idea splitting off into others that may be different, yet are related through their similar origin. After the brief introduction, the cello and piano play a six note figure which is the basis of the entire movement. Each of the following two movements begins with that same basic six-note pattern. However, both the mood and rhythmic context of each are quite different from the first movement and from each other. Thus each occurance of the pattern spawns a very different kind of musical structure.
I. Branching Out is satirical, yet driving, rhythmic and sometimes lyrical in its development of the "opening" six notes. Much of this movement involves passing ideas back and forth between the instruments.
II. Crystal Branches opens by creating an image of ice-covered limbs or even branches made entirely of ice or glass. The same six notes as begin the first movement now played on the piano serve an almost decorative function while the cello gradually becomes more expressive with its long lines. Although the music become intense at its climax, the original mood returns at the close.
III. Branches in the Wind is a perpetual motion for the cello, actually an idea originating in the second movement. However, the same six-note pattern begins the movement and appears often as accompaniment and in transitions. It is extremely fast and provides a virtuoso conclusion to the work.
Commissioned by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild and premiered by Frederick Moyer and Nancy Green in 1987, this work received rave reviews and was later selected for performance at the 15th Annual New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University in 1993.