Cello Sonata No.1 in D Major, Op.10
Percy Sherwood (1866-1939) was born in Dresden of an English father, a lecturer in English at Dresden University, and a German mother, who was a professional singer. He was raised in Germany and attended the Dresden Conservatory where he studied composition with Felix Draeseke among others. After graduating, he pursued a career as a pianist and composer, eventually becoming a professor at the Dresden Conservatory. He enjoyed a considerable reputation in Germany and on the Continent and his works were often performed and held in high regard. By chance, he was visiting relatives and friends in England when the First World War broke out. Unable to return to Germany, he spent the war years in England and then chose to remain there the rest of his life. He wrote in virtually every genre. Among his many students was the talented Croatian composer, Dora Pejačevič.
Sherwood’s First Cello Sonata dates from 1891 and most likely was composed with his friend the Dutch cellist Johannes Smith in mind. Smith was a fellow student and later became a prominent cellist in Dresden and Germany. The work is in three movements. The big first movement, Allegro moderato, has an expansive and lyrical subject for its first theme. The second theme is characterized by its rhythms. In the second movement, Adagio ma non troppo, the main theme slowly unfolds gradually in leisurely fashion and is given a kind of fugal treatment. This leads to a fanfare section with overtones of Wagner. The finale, Presto, is particularly striking. The slow opening chords belie the quick and restless theme which suddenly emerges and just as suddenly disappears as it is followed by a more lyrical second melody.
This is a first rate sonata from the late romantic era. One of its strengths is that it does show the influence of Brahms but is fresh and original sounding. 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. Thanks to the help of Messers Michael Jones and Joseph Spooner, we were able to correct mistakes which appeared in the original edition but were subsequently corrected by the composer. The work was recorded by Cellist Joseph Spooner and Pianist David Owen Norris on Toccata CD 0145.