Cello Sonata in d minor, Op.56
Robert Kahn's Op.56 Cello Sonata dates from 1911. The opening movement, Allegro appassionato, dark and brooding in mood is reminiscent of Brahms, although the writing is better in that it is easier for the cello to be heard in its lower registers. The second movement is actually two in one. It begins slowly, Andante tranquillo with several long-lined melodies, but there is also a second section, Vivace, which serves as a scherzo. The finale, Allegro energico, is quite unusual sounding begin with a lop-sided, plodding theme. It has a desperate, pleading quality. A beautiful second subject is provided for contrast.
Robert Kahn (1865-1951) was born in Mannheim of a well-to-do banking family. He began his studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. There, he got to know and became friends with Joseph Joachim who was the director. It was through both Joachim and his own family that he had a chance to get to know Brahms, who was so impressed with Kahn that he offered to give him composition lessons. However, Kahn was too overawed to accept. Nevertheless, Brahms did help Kahn informally, and while Kahn's work does, to some extent, show the influence of Brahms, he is an eclectic and independent composer whose music has its own originality. After finishing his studies in Berlin, Kahn, on Brahms' suggestion, went to Munich to study with Joseph Rheinberger. After completing his own studies, he worked for a while as a free lance composer before obtaining a position at the Hochschule in Berlin where he eventually became a professor of piano and composition.
This substantial sonata is fine addition to the late romantic repertoire for cello and piano. Long out of print, we are very pleased to make it available once again in hopes that it will soon appear in recital halls.