Sonata No. 2 for cello & piano


“Beck’s Sonata No.2 for cello and piano … is sweeping and lyrical, making a strong addition to the contemporary solo cello repertoire. … The middle movement is especially moving and graceful.”

- Audiophile Audition

My second cello sonata was composed in the fall of 1988, when I had first begun my masters studies at Duke University with Stephen Jaffe.  It is a large, expansive work, both in its three-movement structure and emotional depth.  The opening progression presents the harmonic structure and interrelationship of the three movements, which is based on enharmonic major thirds (Ab-E-C-Ab). The first movement, Animato, is centered in Ab but ultimately closes in an area focused in E.  The second movement, marked Grave, unfolds in a type of broad arch form.  It is primarily centered in a C minor area, but feigns a close in Ab (recalling the first movement’s tonal center), before it shifts back to C minor.  The final movement is a lively rondo (Allegro giocoso); as a tonal companion to the first movement, it is centered in E, but eventually travels back to the sonata’s opening tonality, returning us to Ab/G# through an aggressive and syncopated coda.

Rob Frankenberry, IonSound Project recording session, Pittsburgh, June 2009

Rob Frankenberry
IonSound Project recording session
Pittsburgh, June 2009


I should note that my particular tonal dialect and its underlying architecture grows out of a synthesis of tonal, modal and atonal practices, as those practices are broadly understood.  This means my use of tonal areas described as being centered in C minor (for example) simply indicates that while “home” may be in the harmonic area historically understood and heard as being “C minor,” there is little or no relationship to the functional use of that area, as “functional” is used in the classical sense.  In other words, however a tonality may function in a given composition of mine, its particular functionality is wedded to the context of the individual piece.

Sonata No. 2 for cello and piano was premiered at Duke University on 26 April 1989, by Fred Raimi, cello, and Jane Hawkins, piano. It was recorded by Elisa Kohanski, cello and Rob Frankenberry, piano in 2009 and is available on the 2011 CD, IonSound Project (innova 797).

You may order this composition below; if you would like to order a complete, bound set of all three of my cello sonatas (scores and parts), please email me directly.

cello, piano
Date completed:
ca. 16:00

Featured Recording

IonSound Project

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