Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Presto
Movement 3: Largo
Movement 4: Allegretto con grazia
Though written in a fast 3/4 time, the Presto scherzo creates the impression of a tarantella. This witty and agile movement is full of Reger’s humour in the twists and turns of the writing, the whimsical pizzicati and sudden contrasts of loud and soft. The trio is also gently humorous in the way the cello’s running pizzicati subvert the piano’s solemn chords. A tiny reminiscence of the trio comes just before the end of the scherzo’s shortened reprise. The slow movement is a warmly romantic E major Largo in which the two instruments are very much in concert to create an impression of melodic ecstasy; the model was surely a Brahmsian slow movement, such as that of the older master’s Piano Concerto No 2, but conceived now entirely in Reger’s own melodic and harmonic terms.
The concluding Allegretto con grazia is the most extensive of all Reger’s cello sonata finales, with a pawky dance-tune for main subject, treated somewhat in Baroque manner but with the full resources of modern harmony and counterpoint. The staccato piano-writing, often marked senza pedale, is perhaps intended to evoke (while not exactly imitating) a harpsichord, while the music itself modulates in directions no Baroque composer would have countenanced. Touches of imitation and fugato notwithstanding, this is basically a smilingly good-humoured movement that, after much vigorous capering, comes at last to a peaceful Quasi adagio close.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008