Movement 1: Introduzione: Andante – Allegro
Movement 2: Allegro molto sfrenatamente, presto
What are you wailing about, night wind, what are you bemoaning with such fury? What does your strange voice mean, now indistinct and plaintive, now loud? In a language intelligible to the heart you speak of torment past understanding, and you moan and at times stir up frenzied sounds in the heart!
Oh, do not sing those fearful songs about primeval native Chaos! How avidly the world of the soul at night listens to its favourite story! It strains to burst out of the mortal breast and longs to merge with the Infinite … Oh, do not wake the sleeping tempests; beneath them Chaos stirs!
The sonata divides into two thematically linked Allegro movements, their general character seemingly corresponding to the two stanzas of the poem. The first movement—perhaps the most extended piece of music in 15/8 time in existence—is in sonata form, its structural divisions indicated by the repeated descending triplet figure with which the work opens, like a call to attention. The second movement, a massive free improvisation on the material of the sonata’s introduction, rushes along in headlong torrent, pushing the expressive resources of the piano to the limit. There is little respite from the nightmarish frenzy, for even in the interludes an undercurrent of anxiety is always present. Eventually the coda is reached; fragments of all the themes are heard over a tonic pedal and the scene of chaos gradually fades from view, the music at last vanishing into thin air with two swirling arpeggios.
from notes by Barrie Martyn © 1998