I can't decide if I love or hate Artur Honegger's Viola Sonata of 1920. At first (or second or third etc) glance, the three movements seem oddly mis-matched--more representative of an early twentieth century musical pastiche than a unified work. A smattering of recognizable futuristic gestures and contrapuntal textures appear in the first movement alongside nonfunctional harmonies reminiscent of Debussy. The second movement reads like a musical opium den, the third has obvious references to church bells. Seems simple enough: 1920s Paris, Les Six, Futurism, whole tone scales, blah blah blah.
Indeed, the reduction above explains my apathy towards the sonata. Nothing earth shattering, the sonata is disjointed and easy--a mere diversion.
But then. Something happened. Whilst organizing my books, I came across this volume. Almost immediately I recalled images of its gruesome contents (trench warfare); believe me when I say that I had nightmares for weeks after reading it.
Could one interpret Honegger's music as a response to WWI atrocities? Perhaps it is a stretch, but in the past few days, I certainly have given some thought to the realities of Paris in the 20s and the first World War. And isn't using music as a vehicle for deeper historical-cultural understanding the fun of being a "re-creative" artist?