The Strutt Sonata was commissioned by Josephine Strutt in honour of her late husband, John. For many years this wonderful couple were the most dedicated and enthusiastic patrons of the Huntington Estate Music Festival, of which I have had the privilege of being the Artistic Director since 2006. We all agreed it should be premiered at the 2017 festival, performed by two of their favourite musicians, cellist Julian Smiles and pianist Ian Munro. John passed away in July 2017, but was given a private performance in June.
The work is in a single movement with three distinct sections, the second of which opens with a lyrical aria that returns in darkly mirrored form. The joyous presto finale rises to a peak, followed by a reprise of the central aria.
At the outset I imagined I could make this composition about John in some meaningful way, but had to accept the folly of trying to convey personal characteristics through music alone. In the end I settled for the more realistic ambition of creating music that John might enjoy.
Carl Vine, March 2017