On Saturday 6th July we shall be hosting a programme of great Cello and Piano Sonatas – to be performed by two-thirds of the Grier Piano Trio! While violinist Savitri is otherwise engaged in China with the Berlin Philharmonic – a great tribute to her immense talent – Francis and Indira Grier will perform the following works for Piano and Cello:
- BEETHOVEN worked on his third Sonata for Piano and Cello, Opus 69 in A Major, between 1806 and 1808, when his deafness was all but total. In his tragic letter (the “Heiligenstadt Testament”) of 1802, he had admitted harbouring thoughts of suicide. “It was only my art that held me back – Oh, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt was within me.”
Yet this sonata is one of the most positive works imaginable – from the opening phrase it radiates serenity, humour and joy. It is thoroughly classical in structure, with every theme perfectly conceived for both instruments.
- SHOSTAKOVICH was on his way to premiere his Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor, Opus 40, in 1934, when he read Stalin’s statement in Pravda attacking his music as “bourgeois”. This was the start of a desperately difficult period for the composer, entailing withdrawal of several works from rehearsal and performance – but not, fortunately, this Sonata.
Written in the style of his large-scale symphonic works, its first movement is in textbook sonata form – even including repeats of the exposition. Yet, unsurprisingly, there is no lack of satire or mockery, particularly in the vehement Scherzo. The aria-like third movement is more compassionate than desolate, with almost Schubertian lyrical grace. The comically sinister finale builds tremendous momentum before coming to an abrupt and unceremonious end.
- BRAHMS composed his glorious F Major Sonata for Cello and Piano (Opus 99) while on a summer holiday in Switzerland in 1886. This epic work represents one of the most technically demanding challenges for both performers in the chamber music repertoire. It is a fiery, exultant, heroic, even bombastic, conception – interwoven with the many heavenly themes we expect of late Brahms.
At its core lies a breathtakingly beautiful slow movement labelled “adagio affettuoso”, words that clearly held special significance for him; it concludes with an ineffable sense of lasting peace and serenity.
To be sure of a place and avoid the waiting list, please book early.
For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 6th July and thank you, as ever, for your kind support.