Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Molto adagio
Movement 3: Allegretto non troppo
Hausmann made his debut in London on 30 April 1877 and, the following day, gave the first performance with Stanford of the Irishman’s Cello Sonata at one of Hermann Franke’s chamber concerts at the Royal Academy of Music. With Hausmann’s promotion of the Cello Sonata both in Britain and Europe—the first significant British work in this genre—Stanford decided to compose the Cello Concerto in D minor (also without opus number) for him which, barring Sullivan’s more lightweight concerto of 1866, was also a major landmark in the repertoire of British cello music. After completion in short score on 20 October 1879 it was shown to Hausmann for suggestions and improvements. It was then subsequently finished in full score while Stanford was on holiday in Caernarvon, Wales, in late August 1880. The work then appears to have remained unperformed except for the slow movement which Stanford and Hausmann played at a chamber concert for the Cambridge University Musical Society on 13 March 1884.
The first movement of the concerto essays a shared version of sonata form, a model essentially adopted by Mendelssohn where vestiges of the older classical ritornello procedure are also in evidence, notably in the orchestral tutti of the exposition after the solo opening, and in the central orchestral ritornello. Indeed, the opening crescendo which leads to the yearning cello theme is decidedly reminiscent of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G minor. The second subject is a highly lyrical affair which appropriately exploits the singing tone of the cello besides providing an emotional contrast to the more melancholy hue of the first subject. After the central orchestral tutti, Stanford breaks the mould by introducing, quite unconventionally, a new, tender thematic episode in D flat major during the development. Recovery from this radical tonal departure is, by necessity, more turbulent as D minor is restored for the recapitulation where all three thematic strands are restated.
The shorter slow movement in B flat major, marked Molto adagio, is essentially an ‘Intermezzo’ in song form (ABA), more in the tradition of Schumann. It features an extended, soulful melody which, at its close, is characterized by some remarkably original scoring for strummed pizzicato strings and sustained high flutes (an idea which was to surface again in the slow movement of his late unpublished Violin Concerto No 2 Op 162). A central paragraph, more passionate in gesture, is marked ‘quasi recitative’ for the soloist and is more operatic in its rhythmically freer delivery and tremolando accompaniment.
For the rondo-sonata finale, Stanford provides an interesting and unusual introduction which, besides furnishing a thematic anticipation of the principal rondo theme, effectively functions as a transition from B flat to D major. This tangential passage adds to the light-hearted nature of Stanford’s rondo theme and plays an important role in its eccentric recurrences throughout the movement. It is also preludial to a second subject of much more athletic passagework where we become aware of Hausmann’s virtuoso qualities. A second episode makes use of the main melody of the slow movement. This cyclic occurrence acts as a spur to further developmental treatment of the rondo material before Stanford embarks on a recapitulation featuring all three ideas.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2011