JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor Op. 38
EDVARD GRIEG (1843-1907)
Cello Sonata in A minor Op. 36
When Brahms began his E minor Cello Sonata in 1862, he was fresh from public debate over whether traditional forms were fit for the music of the future. He thought yes, and the sonata beautifully marries admiration for his musical forbears with his own modern voice: a softly impassioned first movement whose second bar’s minor sixth reappears repeatedly across the work, with an E major ‘sunset’ coda to close; a central movement contrasting a Classical-feel courtly menuet with a more Romantic swirling trio; a bold final Allegro combining sonata with fugue, and quoting Bach’s The Art of Fugue. Completed in 1883, Grieg’s warm, melodic and wistful Cello Sonata shares its A minor tonality with his famous piano concerto, and that successful work is echoed in its finale. Preceding that are a dramatic Allegro agitato and a lyrical Andante molto tranquillo.