The expansive first movement of Walter’s Violin Sonata, marked Allegro con espressione begins in a confident A major but its complicated motivic development – based on a knocking shape that looks and sounds rather like a retrograde inversion of Beethoven’s ‘fate’ motif from the Fifth Symphony – soon begins to manifest considerable tonal instability as it modulates through C, A flat, F sharp minor, C sharp major, D minor, E flat major and F sharp minor, sometimes for only the briefest of moments, before eventually settling on A major. The Andante serioso second movement, which sets out in F sharp minor, threads the three-note tail of the knocking figure through an argument that shows only slightly more tonal stability than the first movement: G major, F sharp minor, B flat major, A major, D major, falling back into an uneasy F sharp minor. The Moderato finale sets out in A minor, which manages to withstand the efforts of a dropping figure to de-stabilise it and thus opens out into a passage marked calmo, in the relative major, C. But it doesn’t stay calmo for long, in mood or tonality, swinging through A flat major and E major before returning to A minor with the indication of Tempo primo. Warmer keys predominate for the rest of the movement – G major, E major, B major – until the music sinks into an E minor coda, which returns to A minor for its closing bars.
from notes by Martin Anderson © 2001