Sergey Rachmaninov

Sonata for cello & piano in G minor, Op. 19

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The common wisdom on Rachmaninov's Sonata for Cello and Piano is that it is really a piano sonata with cello accompaniment. While this assessment may be a slight exaggeration, it cannot be denied the piano is the dominant instrument in the work. The composer completed this sonata in November 1901, and gave the premiere in Moscow with cellist Anatoly Brandukov, on December 2 of that year, but apparently made several alterations over the next ten days, since he wrote the date of December 12, 1901, on the final page of the score.

    The work is cast in four movements. The first is marked Lento - Allegro moderato - Moderato and is the longest of the four, especially when the exposition repeat is observed. It begins with a slow introduction in which the piano presents a six-note theme that at first appears insignificant, but in fact plays a key role throughout. The tempo picks up and the cello presents a passionate, beautiful theme. A slower, somewhat more wistful melody follows, after which comes the stormy development section. The reprise ensues and the movement ends in typical Rachmaninovian fashion: the tempo speeds up as thematic morsels appear in a race to the finish, the piano crowning the coda with three resolute chords.

    The second movement, marked Allegro scherzando, begins with piano writing reminiscent of the faster and more sinister passages in the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The cello presents a rhythmic idea in the opening moments of marginal interest. Two other themes are also presented, the latter of which is quite beautiful and recalls the mood of much of the slow music in the Second and Third Piano Concertos, especially in the piano writing.

    The third movement is viewed by many as the strongest of the four. Marked Andante, it begins on the piano with a lovely theme of intimate and passionate character. After the cello enters, the material expands much the way the melody does in the second movement of the Second Piano Concerto. A powerful climax is reached, and the third movement ends softly.

    The finale starts off with a robust theme on the cello that rather lacks the individual stamp of the composer. Still, the music is bright and vivacious and has strong appeal. There follows a second subject more in the Rachmaninovian vein, full of passion and beauty and seeming to soar to the heavens. The two themes reappear throughout, the composer deftly manipulating their interplay. In the beginning of the coda, the cello recalls the piano's opening (six-note) theme from the first movement, and then the work ends brilliantly.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Lento - Allegro moderato
    2. Allegro scherzando
    3. Andante
    4. Allegro mosso

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295924607
    2016 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186594
    2015 LP Classics 1022
    2015 Piano Classics PCL 0081
    2015 Capriccio Records C 5258
    2015 Decca B002375302
    2015 Linn Records BKD 009
    2015 Hungaroton HCD 3274344
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94934BR
    2014 Blue Griffin Recording BG 331
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94771
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2014 Fontenay Classics FCI 008
    2014 Blue Griffin Recording BG 339
    2013 Fuga Libera FUG 712
    2013 Entertainment Group 11406
    2013 Entertainment Group 14160
    2013 Entertainment Group 14162
    2013 Entertainment Group 14164
    2013 Centaur Records CRC 32473248
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 426
    2013 Onyx Classics ONYX 4116
    2012 Solo Musica SM 165
    2012 Entertainment Group 4006
    2012 Melodiya MELCD 1001938
    2012 Romeo Records 72934
    2012 The Entertainment Group 13103
    2012 Bridge BRIDGE 9347
    2012 Quintone 12002
    2012 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 044
    2012 Sony Classical 88725435752
    2012 Bostonia Records 5637988784
    2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1858
    2011 Centaur Records CRC 3196
    2011 VDA Classics
    2011 Finlandia
    2011 Alto 1132
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2010 Alba 293
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2010 Melodia Records
    2010 Cedille Records 90000120
    2010 Genuin 89150
    2009 Sony Classical 752307
    2009 Blue Saphir 1005
    2009 Blue Griffin Recording 105
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Signum Classics / Signum UK 172
    2009 Signum UK 164
    2009 Prima La Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Aeon 0636
    2009 Haenssler 93245
    2008 Blue Griffin Recording 115
    2008 Ars Produktion 38025
    2008 Avi 8553082
    2008 Melba Recordings 301113
    2008 Virgin Classics 0946385786
    2008 Delphian 34034
    2007 Summit Records 474
    2007 Warner Classics 63946
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 4777235
    2007 Disques 21 1569
    2007 Quartz 2053
    2006 RSR 6163
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946358472
    2006 Urtext 116
    2006 Classics Live 206
    2006 SOMM 46
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946366938
    2006 Gasparo Records 365
    2005 SOMM 26
    2005 Decca 4756327
    2005 Artek 22
    2005 Resonance 3035
    2005 Cascavelle 1019
    2005 Erato / Virgin Classics 4820672
    2005 Praga Digitals 350015
    2005 Brilliant 92513
    2004 RCA 55273
    2004 Arabesque 6792
    2004 Centaur Records 2676
    2004 Chandos 10095
    2004 ASV 4006
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 57505
    2003 Hyperion 67376
    2003 Sony Classical 90397
    2003 Decca
    2003 Decca 4738072
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471 620-2GM2
    2001 Forlane 66
    2001 CBC Records 1093
    2001 ArtistLed 19901-2
    2000 Rca Red Seal 902668996
    2000 Intim Musik 062
    2000 Gallo 990
    2000 JRB 2002
    2000 Caprice Records 21643
    2000 EtCetera Records 1162
    2000 Finlandia 81967
    2000 Black Box Classics 1044
    1999 Naxos 550987
    1999 Biddulph Recordings LHW034
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 068-2GCC10
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459022
    1998 RCA Red Seal 902668442
    1997 Guild 7127
    1997 Arte Nova 43316
    1996 ASV 6178
    1996 Virgin Classics 45119
    1995 Boston Records 1006
    1995 Russian Disc 10047
    1995 Supraphon 112156
    1994 Centaur Records 2631
    1994 BIS 386
    1994 Kontrapunkt 33009
    1993 ASV 6072
    1993 Valois 4692
    1992 Chandos 8523
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46486
    1986 Philips 412732
    Reflex Editions
    Veronika Blinder
    Analekta 23160
    IMP Classics 72
    UW Madison, School of Music 9071
    Elan Recordings 2226
    Bainbridge 6272
    D'Note 1018
    Guild GMCD7219
    Classical Records 016
    Anthony Elliott
    London 414340
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    Discover 920187
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