Sonata for Viola or Cello and Piano
Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for Viola (or Cello) dates from 1919 while she was living in America and was composed for the Berkshire, Massachusetts Music Festival. It was the runner up to a sonata by Ernest Bloch. On the first page of the Sonata, Clarke quoted lines from the French poet and dramatist Alfred de Musset "Poet take up your lute, the wine of youth is fermenting tonight in the veins of God." The work is in three movements in what could be called a very late or perhaps post-romantic style. The opening movement Impetuoso is full of passion and emotional warmth. The playful middle movement, Vivace, is skips along with much forward motion. The finale opens dreamily with an Adagio. The main section, Allegro, is full of festive energy.
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was born to an American father and German mother in the English town of Harrow. She grew up in England and was encouraged to play the violin. She began her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in 1903 but was forced by her father to withdraw when one of her teachers proposed to her. In 1907, she continued her studies with Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College in Music. Subsequently, she pursued a career as a professional musician performing on both violin and viola. So it was natural for her to compose a sonata for that instrument since she was well acquainted with it.
It can be said that Clarke intended the work for either Viola or Cello and she wrote as much on the manuscript and both parts were published together when work was made available. So cellists should know that this is not a mere arrangement.