Cello Sonata in a minor, Op.40
Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) was born in the Alsatian town of Ensisheim. He moved to Paris after the Franco-Prussian War after which Alsace became part of Germany. In Paris, he studied organ, piano and composition at the Ecole de Musique Classique, winning many honors. After graduating he worked as a teacher at the Ecole. His compositions won him considerable recognition and he almost certainly would have made a greater name for himself had he not died at the young age of 35.
The Cello Sonata in a minor dates from 1897, the year of the composer’s death. It was dedicated to the famous French cellist Jules Delsart. The sonata shows the influence of Cesar Franck, particularly in the way its thematic material is employed. The opening movement begins with a, slow Maestoso introduction. The main section consists of a powerful Allegro con fuoco. (our soundbite begins with the Allegro) The second movement, an Andante, which is a kind of intermezzo, calls to mind the opening introduction of the first movement, but presents it in an entirely different manner. The brilliant finale, Allegro molto, is filled with defiance and power.
Here is an important cello sonata from the late French Romantic era which makes an excellent selection for the recital hall.