Cello Sonata in C Minor
At first hearing, the Cello Sonata in C Minor may seem less a sonata than a suite. While there is a cross-thematic unity that encompasses the entire work, each of the three movements is distinct.
The first movement, Allegro moderato, conjures images of wild, windy moors. It is a dark, untamed landscape, which I render as "traditional" classical music.
The musical language is minimalist, comprised of repeating cycles of broken chords in the piano accompaniment. They reiterate a precise pattern of legato sixteenth notes from which the agitato cello melody emerges. A dialogue later develops between cellist and pianist, a playful call-and-response that heralds the closing of the movement.
In the second movement, Adagio cantabile, I imagine swaying palm trees and the smell of jasmine in a mesmerizing biblical fantasy of Samson and Delilah or David and Bathsheba. A slow, modal cello melody opens the movement. It acquires a melancholic character with the introduction of the piano accompaniment.
There is a wistful, almost reverent, feel as the melody swells into a tender exultation. The movement closes, almost naturally, as the opening melody unites again with the harmony of the opening piano accompaniment.
The third movement, Allegro energetico, begins with striking dissonant chords, jolting us from the blissful reverie of the second movement. Fitful bursts of serial arpeggios juxtapose with melodic interludes.
The cello then starts a walking bass line that sets a contemporary mood and tonality before handing it off to the piano and initiating a sultry new melody. Multiple musical arguments that incorporate themes from the first two movements lead back home to conclude the work.