Many of the compositions in this section are the part of a series of sonatinas for various wind instruments and piano which I labored over for more than a decade. Now that cycle, which I consider to be my signature contribution as a
composer of music for student musicians, is finally complete at thirteen.*
Someone recently asked me what "sonatina" means. It means "little sonata." These sonatinas all are in traditional style and, as the name would suggest, closely follow sonata form on a somewhat smaller scale. But that only refers to length, not difficulty level. They are not beginner material, all being in the grade 4 - 5 range of difficulty.
Stravinsky once famously commented that Vivaldi did not write over 400 concertos, but wrote the same concerto 400 times. That is of course a gross exaggeration, but I get his point, and I will say here that I could stand accused of the same thing in this series of sonatinas...although I think that puts me in very good company! I made a deliberate decision for them to be a set of companion pieces with strong family ties, that will give the students of different instruments who play them a similar experience. They all feature home keys in a minor mode, and for each of them, the first movement is a sonata-allegro with similar treatment and proportions that does not repeat the exposition, the slow movement is some type of a variation form (theme and variations, chaconne, or passacaglia) in a related major key, and the finale is a home key rondo in 6/8 or similar meter, but with some sort of metric irregularity. Most of them have unifying thematic relationships between the movements, and there are even a few thematic echos relating some of the different sonatinas to each other.
Several of these solos are also available in concert band transcriptions that are titled "concertinos" (little concertos).
* Ten of those, for the most popular instruments in their families, are new work written specifically for the instrument named in the title.
The last three, for down-family instruments--specifically tenor sax, baritone sax, and bass clarinet--are transpositions of earlier
pieces in the series. A few instruments--such as piccolo, English horn, Eb clarinet, and alto clarinet--are left out completely.
I may eventually recycle existing sonatinas for those instruments, but sadly, you have to weigh the marketability of
such works when deciding where to draw the line.
I am also in the process of adapting some the wind sonatinas for string instruments. Since Bach was a prolific recycler of his own instrumental concerti, and even Mozart did it at least once, it would appear that the practice has some sound precedents.
So I decided if it was good enough for Bach and Mozart, it certainly was good enough for me,
and would open up a whole new market for these works.