Recorded on 01/11/2012, uploaded on 05/04/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Brahms wrote over 100 chamber music scores but only two dozen survived his intense self-criticism and his concern about composing in the shadow of Beethoven. His "Cello Sonata No.1" was the first duo sonata that Brahms allowed to be published. This score pre-dates Brahms's monumental First Symphony. Three movements were written during a concert tour in 1862. (Brahms received considerable acclaim as a pianist.) By the time the score was completed in 1865, Brahms had discarded an Adagio and added a new finale which pays tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) with its inventive fugal structure. Brahms composed this new movement around the same time he was writing his "German Requiem" - another score that owes much of its inspiration to the Baroque splendor of Bach's liturgical works.
There is a darkly somber cast to the opening Allegro ma non troppo. The unusually low range of the cello writings gives the entire movement a uniquely melancholy beauty. A more vigorous second subject only briefly imparts a more robust character to the music, after which brooding Romanticism returns in full sway. The intense atmosphere is embellished by the gravely halting piano chords at the movement's outset. (With its dark, rich coloration, this movement is quintessential Brahms.) The second movement - Allegretto quasi Menuetto - is based on a classical dance form. This minuet, however, could never be mistaken for Haydn or Mozart. The wistful melody and surprising turns of phrase is pure Brahms. The vigorous fugal Allegro finale salutes Bach's "Art of the Fugue." (There are three thematic subjects - the first a variant of one of Bach's themes.) In this movement Brahms's mastery of contrapuntal writing comes to the fore. That Brahms managed to create such a masterful fugue within sonata form merely attests to his genius. Brahms's first extant duo sonata is an extraordinary work!
* Notes by Lawrence Budmen
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
I fell haunted from another time.
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