Lyric Sonata for Oboe and Piano by Gary Kulesha (2015) Dur: 15 minutes
Set of oboe and piano
My Oboe Sonata is the fourth in my series of solo sonatas. I have a special connection to the oboe because I actually played it as a teenager. When Chip Hamann approached me for a sonata, I was happy to oblige. I knew his playing from both the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Canadian Oboe Trio, for whom I had written a work called Zephyrs. Chip was planning a project featuring Canadian music for oboe with a focus on lyricism. But for me, “lyrical” can mean many things. In the last decade, I have been thinking a great deal about the nature of beauty, especially in music. In the 21st Century, we need to expand our understanding of the concept, to recognize that, for example, a tree in full bloom is no more beautiful than a leafless tree standing starkly against a northern November sky.
This Lyric Sonata is built around contrasts. The first movement begins with a long, flowing line over shimmering piano ostinatos. The second subject is a more thorny
rhythmic idea, with unexpected twists and turns of metre. A development section leads to a reverse recapitulation of the ideas. The second movement features events that are “just there,” the way rocks and trees are “just there.” Four stark opening chords lead to a very ornamented oboe line. The middle section becomes stormy, and the climax of the movement gradually allows the storm to dissipate into darkness. The finale is quite unlike anything I have ever written before. The entire movement unfolds over constant even-tempered motion. Melodies unfold with no hurry. A contrasting darker section maintains the restless movement. The opening returns and leads to an affirmative and bright ending.