Cello Sonata in d minor, Op.22
Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907) was born in the then Austrian town of Bozen located in the South Tirol (now in Italy and called Bolzano). His remarkable talent for music was recognized at an early age. After a stint at the Innsbruck School of Music, Thuille studied with Josef Rheinberger at the Bavarian Royal Conservatory in Munich. Thuille befriended Richard Strauss when he was ten and they remained friends for the rest of Thuille's life. Strauss' influence on Thuille's music was certainly as great as that of Rheinberger. The last part of his life, Thuille spent as a music professor and composer, achieving considerable fame for his operas. He was the founder of the so-called New Munich School of composition. Among his many students was Ernest Bloch. Thuille wrote in most genres and often turned to chamber music.
The three movement Cello Sonata dates from 1902. In it, Thuille combines classical forms with Wagnerian chromaticism to achieve a stunning and highly dramatic effect. The opening movement, Allegro energico, ma non troppo presto, is from its first notes full of passion. The cello rises from its lowest register, ever climbing with increased intensity. The piano interrupts briefly to release tension, but the cello comes back stronger yet. The big middle movement, Adagio, begins somberly and while it is not without feeling, its longer-lined melodies, are neither frenzied nor highly charged, thus providing a respite between the two outer movements which are. In the finale, Allegro ma non troppo, the piano leads off with a march-like theme which the cello takes up when it enters. The pace is controlled but soon the temperature rises to impassioned heights.
This is a big work which belongs in the repertoire and recital hall. The part-writing for both instruments is masterful. Out of print for decades, we think professionals and amateurs alike will enjoy this fine sonata.