Suite No 3 in A minor
is dedicated to the cellist Paul Grümmer, and though it has only three movements it is formally the most elaborately worked-out of the three members of Op 131c. The Präludium
begins with a solemn chordal idea that is contrasted with more fluid but intense melodic writing. In its second span the chordal writing grows more impassioned, with plangent parallel thirds. Rising chromatic sequences reach their peak in the cello’s highest register before the initial pair of ideas is recapitulated. The richness and subtlety of the writing in this movement allows a good player almost infinite scope for expressive interpretation. This is followed by an ebullient scherzo in D minor, Vivace
, whose head-motif is a kind of leaping horn-call figure and whose form is made ample by copious structural repeats. In the gentler trio (Un poco meno mosso
) the waltz-measure which can sometimes be detected behind the scherzo’s busy-ness comes to the fore.
The finale is an Andante con variazioni, founded on a lyrical and shapely twenty-five-bar theme. Each variation keeps to the same dimensions as the theme, which is treated to various species of decoration. In the tradition of Baroque ‘doubles’, each of the first three variations is apparently faster than the one before, since founded on progressively smaller note-values. With the fourth variation the tonality turns to the major and the theme is richly harmonized in double-stopping (which again reminds one of a group of horns), but it returns to the minor for the climactic fifth variation, a bravura display of virtuosity with emphatic pizzicato chordal punctuation, before a much foreshortened variant of the theme provides an expressive seven-bar coda.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008