By 1705, when the Sonata a violino solo
was probably written, Clerk was introducing Scottish elements into his style. The opening Preludium is wholly Italianate with its flourishes of scales, but the brief variations which follow have some Scottish touches and following a slow air there is a final Scottish jig which romps away with the piece. This work is also of structural interest, embodying the idea of Platonic ideal forms of which the thematic ideas of the whole sonata are the material manifestations. Clerk’s study of the classics is here put to use as part of an aesthetic which is remarkably ahead of its time, creating unity by thematic cross-references, the ideas derived from each other while allowing for contrast.
Interestingly, Clerk has made this sonata eighty-six bars long, thus incorporating the name ‘Elohim’ into it. Perhaps by this means he hoped to defend himself from Presbyterian criticism!
from notes by John Purser © 1998