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Sources, Aesthetics, and Performance in Rădulescu’s Piano Sonatas

Pace, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-0047-9379 (2023). Sources, Aesthetics, and Performance in Rădulescu’s Piano Sonatas. In: Bauer, A., Cagney, L. & Mason, W. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Spectral music. (C6S1-C6N74). New York: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190633547.013.6


This chapter constitutes a mixture of analysis, both based upon the scores and coming out of and reflecting back upon practice, from one who has regularly performed Horaţiu Rădulescu’s six piano sonatas for almost two decades. The chapter considers the sonatas from various angles—their titles, musical borrowings, textures, harmonic language, form (especially the use of sonata form), use of mensuration canons—and considers the implications for touch, rhythm, tempo, rhetoric, rubato, virtuosity, while also adding observations on how particular approaches to various of these parameters can affect the projection of various possible conceptions of the work. Focusing in particular upon the Third and Sixth Sonatas, the chapter also situates the relatively late works in the context of the composer’s wider aesthetic developed since the late 1960s, and considers his use of Byzantine chant and consequent implied musical provenance in the context of the cultural and political milieu in which he grew up, in communist Romania. It also compares his use of Romanian melodies, most of which were collected by Béla Bartók, with the older composer’s own settings of some of the same melodies. It draws upon, but modifies, the analytical strategies developed for engaging with the works’ harmonic language developed by Bob Gilmore, while arguing for a greater consideration of linear progression. Rejecting a prescriptive approach to the relationship between analysis and performance, the chapter elucidates some of the range of creative but intelligent possibilities available for interpreting these works.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Spectral music edited by Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney, William Mason.
Publisher Keywords: Horațiu Rădulescu, piano sonatas, virtuosity, theatre, folk music, Lao Tzu, Byzantine chant, Béla Bartók, Bob Gilmore, spectral music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts
[thumbnail of Sources, Aesthetics and Performance in Radulescu's Piano Sonatas.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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