Gavotte No.2 for Cello & Piano, Op.42
Wilhelm Fitzenhagen (1848-1890) was born in the German town of Seesen, where his father was serving as music director. After studying with his father, he continued his studies with Theodor Müller and Friedrich Grützmacher, at the time the most famous cello teacher in Germany. On Grützmacher’s recommendation, he obtained a position of the Royal Saxon Hofkapelle and also pursued a solo career which brought him to the attention of both Franz Liszt and Nikolai Rubinstein founder of the Moscow Conservatory and, brother of the famous pianist Anton. Liszt wanted to engage Fitzenhagen as solo cellist of the grand-ducal orchestra in Weimar, where he was serving as music director, while Nikolai Rubinstein offered him a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory. He accepted Rubinstein's offer and became one of Russia's most important cello teachers and enjoyed an important solo career, taking part in the premiere of the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky as well as the premiere of his string quartets and piano trio. Fitzenhagen wrote several cello concertos and works for cello and piano which entered the 19th century repertoire as recital pieces and encores. He also composed a string quartet.
Gavotte No.2 was published in 1884 and was one of several shorter works which was often heard in recital or as an encore in the concert halls of Europe up until the First World War after which, it disappeared with some many other attractive works of this genre. The Gavotte is a kind of jaunty dance. The cello now in its highest registers now in its lowest high steps about with telling effect. There is a nicely contrasting lyrical middle section.