Cello Sonata No.1 in D Major, Op.6
Franck's First Cello Sonata dates from 1846 and though it is not dedicated to his teacher, Felix Mendelssohn, it is perhaps a tribute to him. One might well write that Franck's first cello sonata could be called Mendelssohn's third. It should be remembered that it was Mendelssohn who was the first, and not Beethoven, to put the cello, more or less, on equal footing with the piano in his sonatas. Franck followed this example.
Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.
In four movements, the opening Allegro is a massive affair. The appealing main theme is Beethovian to its very core. The second theme, also Beethovian, is equally fetching. The Adagio which follows is a lovely, long Mendelssohnian Song Without Words. The third movement, though marked Menuetto, is another Song Without Words, though much lighter in texture. It brings to mind the delicate, tinkling tunes of old-fashioned chiming clocks. The jovial finale, Allegro assai, has an attractive, good natured melody for its main theme.
Unavailable for well over 100 years, we are pleased to reprint it and are grateful to Dr. Paul Feuchte and Dr. Andreas Feuchte, the composer's great grandson and great-great grandson, for supplying us with a copy of the parts. This fine work deserves to be performed in recital and is a valuable addition to the mid romantic repertoire.