Cello Sonates Op. 38, Op. 78 & Op. 120 no. 1

Cello Sonates Op. 38, Op. 78 & Op. 120 no. 1

Pieter Wispelwey / Dejan Lazić

CCS 24707 - 0723385247074

Information GreatBrittain Germany

Stately young, exuberantly mature and rebelliously old An early, a middle and a late Brahms? Yes and no. I could also say a novel, a letter and an epigram or Goethe, Thomas Mann and Schopenhauer; a symphony, a string quintet and a Lied or a beech, oleander and a bramble bush. Describing and characterizing is a hazardous business, descriptions can never be totally appropriate, clich's even less so. The pieces are simply too good, they even defy the young, middle and late stigmas. The diversity between the works is too complex and on top of that their inner diversities make any sort of labelling impossible. But they might become just a bit less elusive when placed in each others context. Acting as prisms in a play of emissions and reflections they might reveal some characteristics. So back to young, middle and late. The 'young' Brahms lets the first movement of his sonata soberly stroll along, patiently work up to climaxes and in grand and profound style sing out to its conclusion, resulting in a coda that evokes the twilight of a life. Sticking to first movements, in the opening movement of Opus 78 its one inspired melody after another, a real sequence of emotions. Its all superbly structured (as is all Brahms) but somehow the intimacy, tenderness, vulnerability and passion are not too unsimilar to the sentiments of an overwhelming first love experience. The style of the Allegro appassionato of Opus 120 is compact and on a motivic level everything is strictly organized. There is an 'Ernster Gesang' feeling, man dies as beasts, but that fatalism isn't dominant. A more exhilarating 'Ich grolle nicht' melody like the first cello line is hard to imagine, except for the Schumann original. And the many lyrical moments that follow are truly heartwarming. Where stereotyping becomes even more tricky is for instance the finale of Opus 120: totally carefree, youthful, enthusiastic music. Like the cheerful Lndler of the preceding movement it could have been composed decades earlier and it has the mentality of an optimistic youngster. Which reminds us that there was also an old Brahms who loved long holidays and thorough relaxation in general. Apart from an 'autumnal' Rondo theme there again is an abundance of melodies and expressivity in the finale of Opus 78. So much expressivity in fact that at the end of this 'ripe' middle Brahms it almost becomes overripe. Brahms himself apparently couldn't perform this piece and finish it with dry eyes. The mildly sardonic, quasi anachronistic Menuet and the Fugue finale of Opus 38 share love, respect and passion for the past. There is something of an academic touch in that, which makes it all the more surprising coming from the 'young' Brahms. That leaves us with the two sublime slow movements. The Adagio of Opus 78 can only be described as fully brahmsian Brahms, whereas the Andante of Opus 120 is truly indescribable. Beauty is rarely more intriguing. The only fitting response is gratitude. Pieter Wispelwey

Tracklisting
  • 1
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In E-Minor, Op. 38
    I. Allegro Non Troppo
    10:48
  • 2
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In E-Minor, Op. 38
    II. Allegretto Quasi Menuetto
    05:37
  • 3
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In E-Minor, Op. 38
    III. Allegro
    06:02
  • 4
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In D-Major, Op. 78
    I. Vivace Ma Non Troppo
    10:48
  • 5
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In D-Major, Op. 78
    II. Adagio-più Andante-adagio
    07:15
  • 6
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In D-Major, Op. 78
    III. Allegro Molto Moderato
    08:45
  • 7
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In F-Minor, Op. 120, No. 1
    I. Allegro Appassionato
    07:53
  • 8
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In F-Minor, Op. 120, No. 1
    II. Andante un Poco Adagio
    05:02
  • 9
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In F-Minor, Op. 120, No. 1
    III. Allegretto Grazioso
    04:06
  • 10
    Sonata for Piano and Cello In F-Minor, Op. 120, No. 1
    IV. Vivace
    04:52