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Chamber Music


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THE great Bach left six splendid Suites for violoncello alone, and the violoncellist speaks of these reverently and affectionately as his ' Old Testament.' But he has laid hands, too, on three Sonatas which the great Johann Sebastian left for viola da gamba andtcembalo. Adapted for violoncello and the modern pianoforte, they are much more often played as if they really belonged to these two instruments, although their delicacy and light texture are better suited for the two old-world instruments, and do not call upon anything like the full strength of their present-day representatives.
The first of thn-e, in G. begins with a gentle moving Allegro movement, in which the two players have shares of the same melody, in the imitative way of such movements in that age.
The little slow movement, very simple, and built up throughout on one unchanging figure, is a very b?autiful example of the effects which the great Bach could make from such slender material: and the third, like the first, is an Allegro, and makes similar use of the device of imitation. It is brisker and more light-hearted than the first, without its suggestion of quiet meditation.
THE six Sonatas, of which this one for violoncello and pianoforte is the first, are dedicated by the composer to his wife. This one appeared in 1915. The first movement, in slow time. is like a Prelude.
It is followed by a Serenade which begins softly and delicately with the violoncellist playing plucked notes. Then he and the pianoforte join in a two-fold theme, the violoncellist being instructed to play the beginning of his ' with irony ' and then to become expressive. The movement hurries, to become very vivacious for a moment, and then gradually slows again to resume the first speed with an echo of the opening tune.
Without a break it leads straight into the last movement, longer and more fully worked out than the first two, but beginning. like the second, in a very slight, delicate tone. The violoncellist soon has a little expressive melody, very high, and, after a short capricious section, there is another broad tune, fiery and impassioned. But the mood still changes more than once, and towards the end the tune which the violoncello played in high register is heard again.


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