Hyperion Records

Cello Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 5
1892; published by Augener in London in January 1893; dedicated to Oskar Brückner and first performed by him and Reger in October 1893

'Reger: Cello Sonatas' (CDA67581/2)
Reger: Cello Sonatas
Movement 1: Allegro maestoso ma appassionato
Movement 2: Adagio con gran affetto – Più mosso assai
Movement 3: Allegro (un poco scherzando)

Cello Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 5
This Sonata has three movements, the first of them a heroic, wide-ranging Allegro maestoso ma appassionato. From the outset it is clear that Brahms was the young Reger’s musical hero, as both the impassioned cello line and its very full piano counterpart present a host of Brahmsian characteristics in rhythm, harmony and figuration. The cello typically soars and sinks through its full gamut while the piano keeps up a turbulent background. But the second subject, with its sighing, falling third, proves to be a heart-easing melody of great lyrical appeal. A repeated-note idea and urgent semiquaver figurations also feature before the exposition comes to an end; after the briefest of pauses the development begins, ranging far afield harmonically, concentrating on the emotional first subject and rising to wave after wave of climax. There is a full recapitulation, which simultaneously continues the process of development, while the biggest climax is reserved for the coda, though the final bars strike a tone of lyrical nostalgia, even exhaustion.

The central Adagio con gran affetto, in D flat major, begins almost like an operatic scena, with brooding piano chords and a recitative-like cello line. It reaches heights of eloquence without committing itself to a definite melodic shape. A quicker, impassioned middle section (Più mosso assai) deploys mysterious tremolandi in the cello’s low register until a repeated D flat pedal leads back to the opening music, which is now much developed and extended, the cello and piano in serious and melancholic dialogue. A descending triplet figure that featured in the opening span is drawn upon for melodic and accompanimental figuration as the movement rises to a lyrical climax and then evanesces into autumnal shadow.

The last movement is marked Allegro (un poco scherzando) but the ambling character of its opening tune shows Reger had paid close attention to the finale of Brahms’s Op 99 Cello Sonata (in the same key). However the contrasting material has a definite ‘scherzo’ aspect to it, both lively and playful. Also Brahmsian are the pizzicati in the cello as the scherzando music combines with the broader finale theme. The movement progresses in steadily more strenuous (but also good-humoured) vein. Just before the coda there is a moment of quiet reflection that brings home how the opening phrase of the finale theme echoes that of the first movement’s first subject, before the tumultuous closing bars. In the final cadence the piano alludes to the dotted figure with which the sonata had begun.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67581/2 disc 1 track 1
Allegro maestoso ma appassionato
Recording date
7 April 2007
Recording venue
Hannover Congress Centrum, Germany
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Reger: Cello Sonatas (CDA67581/2)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: March 2008
   English   Français   Deutsch