Heinrich von Herzogenberg
Cello Sonata No.2 in D Major, Op.64
"Herzogenberg's Cello Sonata No.2 dates from 1888. It was published in 1890 and is the only one of the three sonatas in four movements. The main theme of the first movement, Allegro begins by quoting the first movement from Brahms’ 2nd Symphony but this sense of nostalgia is quickly dispelled as Herzogenberg takes the music into distant keys full of a chromaticism that makes it entirely unrecognizable from Brahms.The Presto which follows momentarily reminds us of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux as well as Brahms’ 1st Piano Quartet but is certainly in not imitative but more of a tease as it veers off again in original directions. The third movement, Andante, begins with a seaching, painful cry from the cello, now scaling the heights, now plunging into its depths. The main subject is a long-lined, highly romantic and at times dramatic theme. The finale, Allegro, agains reminds of Brahms in a valedictory mood, however, the writing is better as the cello does not have to struggle to be heard above the piano. Heinrich von Herzogenberg's three cello sonatas are every bit as good, if not better, than Brahms'. In my opinion, they play better, the balance is better, the piano does not drown out the cello and the writing for the cello is more cellistic and grateful to play. That they disappeared from the repertoire is not only unfathomable but a tragedy...Sonata No.2 should, as the other two, be in every cellist's repertoire."---R.H.R. Silvertrust, Editor of the Chamber Music Journal
The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) has sometimes been attacked as nothing more than a pale imitation of Brahms, of whom he was a great admirer. There is no denying that his music often shows the influence of Brahms, however, listeners and players alike have discovered that it is original and fresh, notwithstanding the influence of Brahms. Most of his chamber is first rate and Brahms might well have wished he had written some of it. Toward the of his life, Brahms, who was not in the habit of praising other composers publicly, wrote of Herzogenberg, whom he had often harshly criticized in the past, “Herzogenberg is able to do more than any of the others."
Out of for the better part of a century, we are very pleased to reintroduce this fine work and hope that it will be taken up by cellists everywhere.