Cello Sonata No.1 in d minor, Op.29
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) was born near the Styrian capital of Graz and attended the University of Vienna Conservatory studying with Otto Dessoff and Joseph Hellmesberger. By 1875, he himself was teaching at the Conservatory, eventually rising to the rank of Professor of Composition. He was one of the most famous and revered teachers of his time. Mahler, Sibelius, Hugo Wolf, Franz Schmidt, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schrecker and Richard Heuberger were among his many students. That his compositions did not become better known was largely due to the fact that he did little to promote them, living a quiet life in Vienna and refusing to arrange concerts, even when the opportunity arose, in other cities. He certainly had his admirers, including many famous conductors such as Arthur Nikisch, Felix Weingartner and Hans Richter, who championed his works when they had the opportunity.
The Sonata No.1 for Violoncello and Piano in d minor was published in 1881 but was composed a few years earlier. Upon its premiere, it was praised not only by critics but also by Brahms, who rarely had anything good to say about the music of his contemporaries. In four movements, the work opens with a big Allegro moderato. The thematic material, while not exactly tragic, is consistently sad and not without pathos. The second movement, a Scherzo, while not exactly light and bright, does has a capricious nature to it. A short but deeply felt Adagio comes next. It is only in the finale, Allegro non troppo ma giocoso, the the clouds clear and the moods lighten.
This is a first rate sonata which makes a wonderful replacement for the often played Brahms sonatas. It will make a strong impression in the recital hall for sure. Out of print for nearly a century, we are pleased to make it available once again