From the recording Sonata #1 in C major
Piano Sonata #1 in C major (Commedia dell’arte all’improvviso)
The four piano sonatas by James Domine are cast in one movement and follow the traditional sonata-allegro form. The first of these, Piano Sonata #1 in C major opens with a lively theme in C major sweetened by the interpolation of a recurring f# that is marked with the tempo indication of Animato. The principal theme is followed by a contrastingly sentimental cantabile melody that has something of a jazz-ballad flavor set in the dominant key. These two themes are cunningly entwined through the development in an harmonic sequence that emerges into a playful recapitulation. The sonata ends with an open-spaced quartal figuration that implies the tonic key of C major but without implicitly spelling it out in its common triadic form. The subtitle Commedia dell’arte all’improvviso comes from the light-hearted comedic character of the principal theme that is treated throughout in a quasi-improvisational manner reminiscent of the sixteenth-century Italian theatrical style. This sonata, although begun at an earlier date, was completed in 2005 at the request of Joanna Ezrin, pianist and pedagogue as a vehicle for her students.