Ludwig van Beethoven wrote five sonatas and three variation sets for piano and cello. Their time of composition spans a relatively long period of almost twenty years (1796-1815) and exceeds, therefore, the fifteen-year time span during which Beethoven composed his ten Violin Sonatas (1797-1812). Considered as a cycle, Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas throw light on his early years in Vienna, on the middle period, and, in Op. 102, on the late style. Recently R. Larry Todd and Marc Moskovitz have investigated all five sonatas in detail in their monograph Beethoven’s Cello: Five Revolutionary Sonatas and Their World (Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press, 2017).
The beginning of the Sonata in F major Op. 5 No. 1 represents an ideal opening of the cycle with its questioning gesture, just as the Allegro fugato of the Sonata in D major Op. 102 No. 2 concludes the cylce with a striking and powerful ending. That Beethoven twice combined two sonatas into one opus number (Opp. 5 and 102) contributes to the “cyclical” nature of these sonatas. Of all five sonatas, Op. 69 is the longest and represents the center of this cycle. From the very first note, the cello is placed at the center of the music.
The two sonatas Op. 5 break into new grounds in terms of creating a new genre, that is, a cello sonata in which the cello is not the focus of virtuosity; rather, the cello is revolutionary in terms of its independence and expression, creating, in effect, a partnership with the piano on equal footing.
SONATE FÜR VIOLONCELLO UND KLAVIER OP. 5 NR. 1 IN F -DUR (1796)
SONATE FÜR VIOLONCELLO UND KLAVIER OP. 5 NR. 2 IN G-MOLL (1796)
SONATE FÜR VIOLONCELLO UND KLAVIER OP. 69 IN A -DUR (1807/08)
SONATE FÜR VIOLONCELLO UND KLAVIER OP. 102 NR. 1 IN C -DUR (1815)
SONATE FÜR VIOLONCELLO UND KLAVIER OP. 102 NR. 2 IN D -DUR (1815)
Tatjana Uhde, cello
Michael Uhde, piano