During the nine or so years between the publication of his first compositions and the appearance of the Cello Sonata in E minor, Op 46a, Scharwenka had established his reputation and reached full maturity as a creative artist. The sonata is jointly dedicated to his friends and former fellow-students at Kullak’s Academy, the brothers Heinrich and Alfred Grünfeld. Like Scharwenka, Heinrich Grünfeld had remained at the Academy where he taught the cello, and the two of them had joined together with the violinist Gustav Holländer to produce chamber music subscription concerts in Berlin during the years 1871 to 1881. Expansive melodic writing, infused with a new, more deeply-felt sense of romanticism, together with a more natural and effective integration of the two instrumental parts, are the main features of this work, setting it apart from the earlier examples. A rather dark opening theme, ideally suited to the cello, sets the mood and dominates much of the first movement. The Andante provides a somewhat surprising change of direction, beginning with a chorale-like passage which gives way to a rather Brahmsian centre section before returning and ending the movement on a note of tranquil calm. The finale, in E major, provides a contrasting affirmative conclusion. Such was the success of the work that Scharwenka arranged it for violin and piano, and also made an arrangement of the slow movement for string orchestra with harp and organ. Some twenty-five years later, along with a number of his other works, he made a thorough revision, making some small cuts and rewriting several passages, and it is this version that is recorded here.
from notes by Martin Eastick © 2002