After titanic contributions to the cello sonata repertoire by Ludwig van Beethoven, few notable additions were made for several decades. Not until 1862 did the cello sonata re-emerge in the hands of Johannes Brahms. His peculiar First Sonata contains only three movements (the Adagio having been omitted for fear of the sonata being too lengthy) and a finale that all but defies formal analysis. Almost a quarter century passed before Brahms again returned to the cello sonata, this time in the key of F major. The second sonata is considerably more challenging for cellists and Brahms' treatment of the instrument is not the exclusively lyrical, sonorous melodies that one might expect. Rather, Brahms incorporates lots of rhythmic, motivic playing and pizzicato passages and rapid bariolage. A "third" cello sonata, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, is Paul Klengel's (whose cello-playing father was much admired by Brahms) transcription of the G major Violin Sonata.
This recording features World Premiere recordings of works by Boccherini and his contemporaries Facco, Porretti and Vidal. The Boccherini 'Sonata in c minor' was only discovered in March of 2004. Facco's 'Balletti for Two Cellos' are the first known works for the instrument to have been composed in Spain.
Made during the late Sixties and early Seventies, this iconic recording of Beethoven's duos and piano trios brings together three of the world's finest musicians: Zukerman, Barenboim and du Pre. The compilation reveals the players' intent on extracting the ultimate in expression; also featuring a live performance of Tchaikovsky's A minor Trio, it's combination of youthful exuberance and interpretative flair remains undiminished.
Playing together for the first time for Hyperion, Hough and Isserlis are stunningly matched in this large-scale passionate romantic programme. The sonatas stand at the centre of the meaty repertoire established by Brahms - whose two cello sonatas Steven Isserlis has recorded for us in an awardwinning disc accompanied by Peter Evans (CDA66159) - and characterised by grand sweeping gestures, lush melody, and heartfelt emotions that sear from pathos to frenzy. The Franck is, of course, an alternative version the composer wished for his violin sonata, a transition that many feel to be the work's happiest incarnation.
Mendelssohn was briefly between jobs when he wrote the second of his two cello sonatas; he was making the transition from handling musical matters for the King of Prussia to assuming the directorship of the new Leipzig Conservatory. The attendant stress of this period is hardly reflected in this sonata, which the composer wrote for his brother Paul, a cellist...
What a versatile artist Steven Isserlis is. Having made his name as a sympathetic interpreter of a wide variety of romantic and modern music, here he shows he can be just as persuasive in eighteenth-century repertoire. His stylistic awareness is evident in beautiful, elegant phrasing, selective use of vibrato and varied articulation, giving an expressive range that never conflicts with the music’s natural language. In the cello concertos he is helped by an extremely sensitive accompaniment, stressing the chamber musical aspects of Haydn’s pre-London orchestral writing. The soft, intimate sonority at 3'06'' in the first movement of the D major is a typical example. The Adagios are taken at a flowing speed, but Isserlis’s relaxed approach means they never sound hurried. The Allegro molto finale of the C major Concerto, on the other hand, sounds poised rather than the helter-skelter we often hear. In his understanding of the music, Isserlis is a long way ahead of Han-na Chang, whose version places the emphasis on fine, traditional-style cello playing. Mork’s vivacious, imaginative performances characterize the music very strongly, but my preference would be for Isserlis’s and Norrington’s lighter touch and greater refinement.
Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.