elizabeth vercoe composer

for unaccompanied cello (1980)

" a lyrical work for unaccompanied cello" (The Belmont Herald)

" skillfully exploits the possibilities of the instrument" The Jewish Advocate)

Paris performance




Sonaria (1980, 9 minutes) is a melodrama for solo cello written in memory of the composer's father, an amateur cellist.

Since the music was written as commentary on an imagined dance/mime, the listener is invited to "screen" those private visual images sometimes evoked by music instead of hastily suppressing them and trying to "pay attention."  The mood of the piece is at times tongue-in-cheek but for the most part is entirely serious.

The style of Sonaria is largely lyrical with wide-ranging lines, low pizzicatos serving as punctuation marks, tremolos, soft glassy sounds created by bowing close to the bridge, and the trills, double-stops and harmonics that help to broaden the cello's vocabulary. Written in several sections, the lyrical opening gives way to a more staccato section that ends with low, left-hand pizzicatos. Next comes a more mysterious section with trills and tremolos and then a lighter, busier section with a steady beat. The last pages include several very slow sections — sul ponticello and either high on the instrument or in harmonics, creating a sense of distance either in space or time. At the end, the recurring open C-string, the lowest note on the instrument, appears once again both as a sustained pedal point and finally as three concluding left-hand pizzicatos.

Performance venues for the piece have included the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the Fifth Biennial of San Juan in Puerto Rico, the Lochotinsky Pavilion in Plzen, Czechoslavakia, and the Arnaud Lefebvre Gallery in Paris. Sonaria received an award in the Felipe Gutierrez Espinosa International Competition in 1980.

See page sample & complete score below.

To order the score:  American Composers Alliance