The single Sonatensatz (Scherzo) was not published till after Brahms’ death. The piece is originally for violin and piano and formed the third movement of a full-length four movement sonata by three different composers, Schumann, Dietrich his student, and the youthful Brahms. This is the only movement still regularly performed. It certainly makes a strong, effective recital piece.
More than twenty years separate the two cello sonatas. While the first, in E minor is generally rather sombre, often very low-lying on the cello and serious in its Bachian working-out, the second, in F major is full of turbulent, confident, even heroic qualities. It presents both players at full throttle, strutting proudly through one noble melody after another, and then – in the radically remote and radiant key of F sharp major –has one of Brahms’ most glorious slow movements and a dark scherzo which paraphrases the opening theme from his 3rd symphony’s finale.
These two sonatas for cello and piano have achieved a legendary position – wonderful and powerful expressions of 19th century romanticism.
Raphael Wallfisch is one of the most celebrated cellists performing on the international stage. He was born in London into a family of distinguished musicians, his mother the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and his father the pianist Peter Wallfisch. At an early age, Raphael was greatly inspired by hearing Zara Nelsova play, and, guided by a succession of fine teachers including Amaryllis Fleming, Amadeo Baldovino and Derek Simpson, it became apparent that the cello was to be his life's work. While studying with the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky in California, he was chosen to perform chamber music with Jascha Heifetz in the informal recitals that Piatigorsky held at his home. At the age of twenty-four he won the Gaspar Cassadó International Cello Competition in Florence. Since then he has enjoyed aworld-wide career.