For Violin and Piano
(2016) 12 minutes

Sonatina was premiered at St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, London by Fenella Humphreys and Nicola Eimer on the 25th April 2019. 

N.B. Sonatina is an arrangement of Songs and Dances for cello and piano.

Programme note

Composing music described by The Times as “a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of composition”, Cheryl Frances-Hoad sprang to prominence at the age of fifteen, when she won the BBC Young Composer of the Year Competition, resulting in her winning work being performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

She began her musical life as a cellist and composer, and her Violin and Piano Sonatina is a reworking of a cello piece she wrote in 2011 called Songs and Dances. It reverses the common fast-slow-fast movement plan, beginning with a slow first movement that is marked “Quietly dignified”. It explores the depths of the piano, with softly penetrating low notes, above which the piano and violin explore a two- bar motif in various forms. Stately in character, it has a feeling of space and grandeur.

The second movement is highly spirited, capriciously switching between irregular time signatures such as 7/8 and 5/8 and the more balanced 8/8 and 6/8. This creates an unpredictability and almost jazzy, dance-like quality. The violin’s harmonics above the rocking piano part add colour interest. A more expressive and expansive middle section is much fuller in texture, using rich piano chords and a cantabile violin melody, before giving way to a return of the livelier opening material. The third movement recalls the more sombre mood of the opening movement and uses syncopation and many changing time signatures to create ambiguity and a feeling of exploration and uncertainty. The melodic line rises to a huge climax, before beginning its descent, and after much harmonic tension and chromaticism, the work finishes its journey on a peaceful C-major chord.

© Nicola Eimer


"A charismatic Sonatina from British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad is a revelation, from the viola-like richness and intensity of the opening movement to the dancing harmonics of the second." Catherine Nelson, The Strad

"This 16-minute work is a powerful, dynamic and often moving contribution to the violin and piano repertoire." John France, MusicWeb International

Performance history (post-premiere)

18th July 2019 - Fenella Humphreys and Nicola Eimer at the St. Margaret's Church, Buxted, Sussex, UK


Buy So Many Stars, Fenella Humphreys and Nicola Eimer's CD featuring Sonatina

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