Easley Blackwood, closely identified with modernist music both as composer and pianist, composed this surprisingly romantic Cello Sonata which makes its recording debut on this album. The Cello Sonata, performed by cellist Kim Scholes and Blackwood, is coupled with the unjustly neglected Cello Sonata of 20th-century English composer Frank Bridge.
Blackwood conceived his four-movement sonata as the kind of work Schubert ’probably’ would have written if he had lived until 1845, by which time, Blackwood believes, the German composer would have discovered some new harmonic progressions. The "1845" sonata, completed in 1985, is one of several works to emerge from Blackwood’s newest stylistic preoccupation: composing works in the styles of past masters, sometimes adding musical elements the original composers never used.
Blackwood’s speculative, "what if" approach appears to be unique among contemporary composers. [Blackwood’s Symphony No. 5 is written as a Sibelius symphony imbued with modernist elements the Finnish symphonist never adopted.]
Blackwood wants to leave listeners exhilarated. "I’m simply hoping they’ll get the same feeling they have after hearing a chamber piece by Schubert that they admire very much. I hope people will walk away with some of the tunes running around in their heads."
Blackwood points out in the liner notes that his recent works in traditional idioms don’t represent a renunciation of his ultra-modern works but rather a new interest in tonality arising from his extensive research into microtonal tunings and long repertoire study during his 30-plus years of teaching harmony at the University of Chicago. He focused on Schubert because of an intimate familiarity with Schubert’s works, especially the obscure songs with unusual harmonic progressions. To make a genuine contribution to the repertoire, Blackwood settled on an "1845" Schubertian cello sonata because Schubert never composed a cello sonata, and there is a dearth of major works for cello and piano between the great sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms.