Cello Sonata No.1 in D Major, Op.12
Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950) was born in Congress (i.e. Russian) Poland near Warsaw, where his father, a military engineer was then serving. He took piano and violin lessons as a boy but followed in his father's footsteps, entering the military academy and graduating as an engineer. When he was posted to Moscow, he studied composition with Reinhold Gliere. Upon transfer to St. Petersburg, he finally decided to become a composer and entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov. It was there he met Prokofiev with whom he became close friends. He served in WWI and was severely wounded on the Austrian front. After the war, he taught for most of his life at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his many students were Kabalevsky, Khatchaturian, Shebalin and Shchedrin. He wrote in virtually every genre leaving some 27 symphonies and 13 string quartets, along with numerous instrumental sonatas. Myaskovsky has to be one of the most underrated composers of the 20th century. Most who come to his music for the first time are amazed that it is not better known.
His First Cello Sonata was composed in 1911 immediately after he graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. It is in two movements which are closely related thematically. It represents the beginning of Myaskovsky from modernism. He himself wrote that both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov influenced him. The opening movement, Adagio-Andante, opens with a slow, majestic theme, slightly tinged with Russian overtones. The andante is not much faster and in a seamless continuation of the adagio. A dark and more passionate section comes after this. The second movement. Allegro appassionato, begins full of passion high in the cello's tenor register. It's searching motif rises to considerable dramatic heights.
This is an absolutely first class work which will also be a success in the recital hall and will also appeal greatly to amateur cellists everywhere.