The Brahms Cello Sonatas
The Brahms cello sonatas present performers with a unique challenge:
spanning Brahms' creative output, they encompassthey embracecello
playing, addressing numerous aspects of cello and piano collaboration
and taking instrumental technique to a new level.
The E Minor sonata, with its warm, introspective opening, its
whimsical and dreamy scherzo, and its fugal finale (an homage
to Beethoven's last cello sonata) offers an opportunity to see
Brahms at his most classical and to explore its pervading problems
In the F Major sonata, the simultaneous unity and struggle of
two instruments, the innovative use of the cello, and a revolutionary
concept of sound confront us. Hugeness of sonority is Brahms'
original stamp on music. In this sonata Brahms actually re-defines
the voice of the cello. New techniques had to be developed to
accomplish what was notated: the impulsive and wildly ecstatic
motives opening the first movement and the use of bariolage (a
baroque idea not used before or since in romantic music) build
to an explosive level and require unorthodox use and control of
the bow. Even pizzicato is conceived anew: first in the somber,
low opening of the slow movement and then, in the coda of the
finale, a statement of the opening theme, a spun-out, songful
melodic lineplayed pizzicato! This work not only looks to
the future, but creates it.
In his cello sonatas Brahms treats solo and chamber music elements
in a way not achieved elsewherebrilliant solistic moments
become intimate and ensemble elements are electrifying. In my
life they are an endless source of great joy, exquisite beauty,
and immense satisfaction.
Susan Salm, 2005