Sonata for Flute and Piano (2015)
duration: 22’
GRT • 181

youtube (1st movement)

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
I. distance to Ganymede: 628,300,000 km
II. ice crust: 150 km thick
saltwater ocean underground
IV. for those in peril on the sea

Sonata for Flute and Piano is written for Emma Sholl. It is the 7th in a series of sonatas undertaken in the new millennium. The work in 4 movements is a contemplation of the projected discovery in March 2015 of a huge underground ocean on Ganymede – Jupiter’s largest moon (also the largest in our solar system and unique in having its own magnetic field).

The 1st movement contemplates the sheer distance of Ganymede from Earth, a journey that would likely begin in excitement, but gradually slow in drama – the second half of the movement harmonically (or cryogenically) frozen in time. Supposing anyone actually made it alive to Ganymede, they would then be standing on an icy crust 150km thick. The 2nd movement ponders the seeming impenetrable scale of that. Extending the science fiction scenario a little further, even if we made it through the ice into the saltwater underground ocean, would we find life in the fluid darkness? It’s an alluring idea – given scope in the 3rd movement – but a long way from home and probably deadly. The final, brief 4th movement is a secular benediction for those in peril on the sea.

“Two sonatas for flute and piano bookend Volume 2, beginning with the energised, intergalactic landscapes of Stuart Greenbaum”
Jessie Cunniffe, Brisbane Times, August 2020

“The world premier recording opens the program – Sonata for Flute and Piano by Stuart Greenbaum, written in 2015 as part of his series of 20 sonatas for different instruments. It continues on from other cosmically-inspired works by this composer, taking us on a journey into his imaginary extra-terrestrial world. The first of four movements, entitled “distance to Ganymede: 628,300,000 km”, is described as a “contemplation of the projected discovery of a huge underground ocean on Ganymede –  Jupiter’s largest moon ”; its arresting opening speeds us from earth,  momentum gradually slowing as we enter the silence of outer space – calm, optimistic and lyrical. The second movement “ice crust:150 km thick” is an intense evocation of a cold, icy environment and crystalline, frozen stillness. Next we enter a “saltwater ocean underground”, slowly at first, eventually leading to water as depicted by rolling figures for piano and liquid flute passages. The final movement is a short, poignant dedication “for those in peril on the sea”. This major work, around 20 minutes long, is an impressive addition to the repertoire and it is hard to imagine a more insightful interpretation for its first recording than this from Derek Jones and Cameron Roberts.”
Gwen Bennett, Music Trust E-Zine, August 2020