Sacred Sonatas – Piano Sonatas by A. Vella Gregory

Posted on Nov 23, 2019

Alex Square PosterThis piano recital presents two contemporary piano sonatas by composer Alexander Vella Gregory. The recital features Piano Sonata No. 5 ‘Litanija’ (Litany) as well as the world premiere of Piano Sonata No. 6 ‘Viżjonijiet’ (Visions). The two works both arise from Catholic theology and mysticism, using the piano sonata as a means for spiritual reflection. Both sonatas explore a very particular form of the genre – the sonata as a spiritual meditation. They are a continuation of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas (1676) and Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1944) – works in which religious symbolism is transformed into musical symbolism.

Sonata No. 5 (2013) is a work in twelve short movements, with each movement exploring a title given to the Virgin Mary in the Litany of Loreto (hence the title ‘Litany’). The work abounds with symbolic gestures from the mirror-image first movement (Speculum Iustitiae – Mirror of Justice), to the white-note harmony of the sixth movement (Turris Eburnea – Ivory Tower), and the grandiose finale that brings all the elements together.

Sonata No. 6 (2019) is the first in a projected series of four sonatas that explore Dominican spirituality. This project stems from the composer’s own personal contact with the Dominican community in Valletta, both through family ties as well as through research. The project will see four four-movement sonatas. Each sonata explores the lives of three Dominican saints, with the fourth movement dedicated to St Dominic being common to all four works.

The first sonata of the series examines three Dominican female saints, all three of whom were great mystics, hence the title ‘Visions’. The three saints in question are St Agnes of Montepulciano  who received communion from an angelic visitation for nine consecutive Sundays, St Rose of Lima who experienced paralysis as part of a spiritual experience, and St Catherine of Siena, one of the most incredible women of her age who experienced divine ecstasy. Each movement takes the form of an ‘Etude’ – a form that allows the investigation and transformation of a musical idea. The fourth movement is dedicated to St Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers.

Date: Saturday 23rd November 2019 @ 19:30

Venue: Palazzo De La Salle, Republic Street, Valletta

Tickets: €10 (€8 concessions) – sold at the door

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