Sonatas for piano and cello

KTC 1720 . 1CD . 8711801017204 . 03/02/2022 . Etcetera Records

Sonatas for piano and cello

Composer(s):
  • Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

DIGITAL ONLY

The sonatas for piano and cello
Technical virtuosity was hardly a point of interest for Brahms, but he was very keen on colour and expression in any given instrument; a favorite of his was the cello’s warm sound.

Twenty years (1865, 1886) separate the sonatas n°1 in e minor, op. 38 and n° 2 in F major, op. 99, composed simultaneously with the second violin sonata, op. 100 and the third Piano Trio, op 101. Op. 38 was Brahms’ very first sonata for piano and another instrument; the first three movements were composed in 1862, the final “fugue” in 1865.

In the end he removed the Adagio and retained three movements: Allegro non troppo, Allegretto quasi minuetto and Allegro. This sonata, dedicated to the amateur cellist Joseph Gänsbacher succeeds in conserving a youthfully sponaneous character with its obvious references to past styles. Its first movement is in simply Classical sonata-form with three themes; the second delicately pastiches the French Menuet, highly popular with Haydn and Mozart, less so with Beethoven, and the Finale shows his admiration for Bach with an easily recognizable extract from Bach’s Art of Fugue. Twenty years later, the second sonata shows discretion in the use of historical models and paves the way for the future; many later composers – Arnold Schoenberg among them – respected and admired Brahms for his rhythmic freedom and contrapuntal mastery.

In four movements, the second cello sonata opens symphonically with a wonderfully Romantic statement, with a compressed energy worthy of Beethoven. The following Adagio is just as orchestral in its powerfully expressive melody that perfectly typifies Brahms’art; In the third movement, Allegro passionato, great contrasts occur between a shadowy chromatic theme and orchestral outbursts and an unreservedly lyrical trio section, and the Finale, Allegro molto, appears simpler and lighter in texture with a principal theme that evokes a popular song, but is just as brilliant in its ending.

Brahms had a special bond with his First Violin sonata, and during his last years transcribed it for cello and piano; it was published by Simrock in 1897 without the transcriber’s name. Brahms insisted on his anonymity and his name never appeared on the title-page of his transcriptions’ first editions. A closer look at the multitude of often extremely subtle differences between the two versions should suffice to convince any doubters that this is indeed another of Brahms’ alternate versions.

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Track listing

Sonata for Piano and Cello No.1 in E min Opus 38
1 allegro 14:29
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
2 allegretto quasi menuetto 05:49
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
3 allegro 06:46
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
Sonata for Piano and Cello No. 2 in F Major Opus 99 
4 allegro 08:46
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
5 adagio affettuoso 06:18
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
6 allegro passionato 07:26
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
7 allegro molto 04:29
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
Sonata for Piano and Cello in D Major, Opus 78 (transcribed from Violin Sonata No.1, Opus 78)
8 Vivace ma non troppo  10:28
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
9 Adagio 07:00
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'
10 Allegro molto moderato 08:11
artists: 'Viviane Spanoghe' 'André De Groote'
composers: 'Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)'