Sonata for piano

Tags: piano, sonata

IN PREP

Some degree of mystery surrounds Peter Tranchell's Sonata (or Sonatas) for piano.

In a letter to his parents, 25 Mar 48, Peter wrote:

...My supervisor's put me in for 2 composition schols. One gets me a public performance by professionals & £25. The other gets me £300 and a year in Italy! Only if I win them of course. So you'll be glad to hear that my Sonata for piano is finished - & ends with a tempestuous fugue.

This followed several comments over the previous year about its progress.

18 Dec 1947

[Geoffrey Garrett] has promised to learn to play my piano sonata if I finish it quickly - so that it can be given at concerts some time.

16 Feb 1948

My life is getting so full that I dont really get anything done. My Service is still uncompleted and so is my sonata...

However the classified handlist indicates that the 1948 Sonata for piano is missing from the Cambridge University Library, and in his analysis of Peter Tranchell's musical output before 1950 Peter Marchbank mentions only "an incomplete First Sonata".

Online search of the archives shows MS.Tranchell.1.31 "Sonata for pianoforte" (with cover title 'IIIrd sonata for pianoforte'), a 20 page holograph manuscript in ink. The work is described as "In 5 movements: I. An allegro - II. A slow liquid movement - III. A scherzo - IV. A pensive slow movement - V. A cadenza and fugato". Ostensibly this matches Peter Tranchell's description of the work he completed in March 1948, so at present we an uncertain why it was not known to the compilers of the handlist or to Peter Marchbank. We also do not know why its (original?) cover claims it to be the "IIIrd sonata". Watch this space. 

Whether or not this work in the CUL is indeed the 1948 Sonata as we suspect, it is not clear whether the piece was performed. We find this unsuccessful attempt to raise interest in a letter home dated 4 Aug 48:

Last Friday I went up to town, - & met Dennis Matthews, the concert pianist, - to whom I played some of my works, to see if he would play any at his recitals. Jane [Scott, later Elizabeth Jane Howard] is a friend of his, & arranged our meeting. We both went out to a very good dinner cooked by Dennis' wife. Dennis was most excited by one set of pieces [the Seven Pieces?], but they are too big for his hand. I also frothed through parts of my piano sonata. He wasn't so enthusiastic. The idiom was strange to him, he said - he being a grocer's-boy type who has made good with Bach Beethoven & Mozart. Nevertheless I know now the sort of thing to write for him, & will later have a shot at enlisting his support by carefully considered tactics.