Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major, Op.15
Dietrich’s Cello Sonata in C Major dates from 1868 and was published the following year. It was dedicated to Julius Rietz, a cellist and professor at the Leipzig Conservatory, who had been a close friend of both Schumann and Mendelssohn. The order of the movements in unusual in that it begins with a lyrical and graceful slow movement, Moderato espressivo, ma non troppo lento. It is then followed by a passionate Allegro in the minor. The third movement, a melodious Poco adagio, also in the minor. It closes with a cadenza for both the cello and the piano—something one normally finds in fast rather than slow movements. The exciting and jovial finale, Allegro con spirito, returns to the major.
Albert Dietrich (1829-1908) was born in the German town of Golk near Meissen. Today, he is chiefly remembered as being a contributor to the famous collaborative FAE Violin Sonata. He first studied at the Leipzig Conservatory and then continued his composition studies with Robert Schumann in Dusseldorf. He not only became good friends with Schumann and his wife Clara, but also with Brahms and the violinist Joseph Joachim. It was Schumann who suggested that he, Brahms and Dietrich together should write a sonata for Joachim as a surprise. Joachim had recently separated from his wife and the sonata came to be known as the FAE--Frei aber einsam (free but lonely). Dietrich was one of Brahms' closest friends and wrote an important biography of him. He enjoyed a long career as a music director and composer.
This is a major cello sonata, which, in our opinion, is the equal to those of Brahms. That it is not heard in concert is a travesty. Though there has been a modern edition, it is expensive, inaccurate and inferior to the original which we have reprinted. It is no way beyond amateurs who are also encouraged to make its acquaintance.