Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata for cello & piano No. 1 in F major, Op. 5/1

    Description by John Palmer

    In May-July 1796 Beethoven was in Berlin as part of a concert tour, traveling (as Mozart had done in 1789) with Prince Lichnowsky. While there, he composed, or at least began, a number of important works, including the Cello Sonatas, Op. 5, and the Variations for cello and piano in G major on "See the conqu'ring hero comes" from Handel's oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus, WoO. 45. The Cello Sonatas, Op. 5, are dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia, a capable amateur cellist. Beethoven occasionally sought to dedicate works to influential people in the hopes of obtaining a reward; in the case of the Op. 5 sonatas, Beethoven received a gold snuff box filled with louis d'or (twenty franc gold pieces).

    The first cellist of the Court Orchestra (and Wilhelm II's teacher) was Jean-Pierre Duport (1741 - 1818); it was for him that Beethoven composed the two Cello Sonatas, Op. 5. The premiere of the two sonatas was given in Berlin in May or June of 1796; it is possible that Beethoven performed the works not with Jean-Pierre Duport, but with Duport's younger brother, Jean-Louis. Regardless of which brother actually played, the performance style and ability of these two famous cellists certainly influenced Beethoven's composition for the instrument. In fact, a few aspects of the cello writing in the Op. 5 sonatas appear in a tutorial volume for the instrument later published by Jean-Louis Duport. The two Sonatas of Op. 5 were printed in February 1797 by Artaria & Co. in Vienna.

    Beethoven's composition of sonatas for cello and piano was unprecedented; he had no models in the works of Haydn or Mozart. Only recently had the instrument begun to liberate itself from its role in the traditional basso continuo. The sonatas of Op. 5 are remarkable in the density of their material, for the composer's ability to relate more distant keys to the tonic, and for their completely written-out keyboard parts (rather than figured bass, which would have been more common at the time), in which the composer's native instrument assumes an equal voice to that of the soloist; in all of these ways the two sonatas have no parallel in their time.

    Each of the two sonatas of Op. 5 features a slow introduction in the manner of Haydn's symphonies; that for No. 1, in F major, is rhapsodic in nature, and acts as a true prelude to the movement's broad main theme (Allegro). Beethoven's experimentation with tonal materials is most impressive in the second theme area of the first movement; although he modulates clearly and firmly to C major (the dominant) for the secondary theme, the presence of A-flat major looms large. The recapitulation presents an abbreviated form of the exposition, the main theme appearing fully fledged only in the coda.

    The second movement of this two-movement work is a rondo in 6/8 meter; its texture and character are much lighter than those of the first movement. Both players have chances to display their technical facility in this movement, the appeal of which lies in its quicksilver passage work and good humor.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio sostenuto - Allegro
    2. Rondo. Allegro vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Onyx Classics ONYX 4196
    2018 Audite AUD 23440
    2018 Nimbus Alliance NI 6362
    2018 MDG MDG 9032067
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Sony Classical 88985406832
    2017 Praga / Praga Digitals PRD 250372
    2017 NFM ACD 225
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16030
    2016 Ars Produktion ARS 38533
    2016 Melodiya MELCD 1002296
    2016 Onyx Classics ONYX 4178
    2016 Evidence / Evidence Classics EVCD 015
    2016 Erato 0190295951139
    2015 Pentatone / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186475
    2015 Maguelone MAG 111199
    2015 Naïve V 5387
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794647
    2015 Audite 21433
    2014 Centaur Records CRC 3322232425
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMC 90218384
    2014 Solo Musica SM 210
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94624
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 MSR Classics MS 1486
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Broken Audio BRAU 0951
    2013 Sony Classical 88765438572
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 001649002
    2012 Accent ACC 24237
    2012 Regis Records RRC 2092
    2012 Masterworks / Sony Classical 8869754468
    2012 Phaia Music PHU 03536
    2012 Solo Musica SM 162
    2012 Sony Classical 88725463902
    2012 Decca
    2012 Decca 4783577
    2011 CAvi-music AVI 8553225
    2011 Paladino Music PMR0011
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Documents / Membran 233075
    2011 Fazer / Finlandia
    2011 Divox CDX25212/3
    2011 TwoPianists 1039053
    2011 Accord
    2011 Divox CDX 552572
    2011 Haenssler 93272
    2010 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 10004
    2010 Claves 502914/15
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Bridge 9329
    2010 Telos 51
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2009 Sony Classical 752307
    2009 Dorian 90910
    2009 Ars Produktion 38035
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Apex 4692237
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93895
    2009 Telarc Distribution 80740
    2009 Telarc Distribution
    2009 Document 223992
    2009 Oehms Classics 111
    2009 Documents / Membrane 232768
    2008 Hyperion 67633
    2008 Live Classics 207/8
    2008 Classics Live 207/8
    2008 Blue Griffin Recording 171
    2008 Saphir Productions 1022
    2008 Camerata Records 28127
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697074742
    2007 Musicaphon 56870
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220582304
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 HDC 40301
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950416
    2006 Delos 3368
    2006 Eroica Distribution 3227
    2006 Eroica Distribution 3300
    2006 Fazer / Finlandia
    2006 Novalis 150181
    2006 Gramola GRAM 98801/2
    2006 Artek 25-2
    2005 Berlin Classics 0013492
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586242
    2005 Naïve V4995
    2005 Sony Classical Essential Classics 5164942
    2005 Channel Classics 22605
    2005 Danacord 333
    2005 Philips 000395802
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 Accord 4767786
    2005 Nimbus 5741
    2005 Decca 4756327
    2004 Berlin Classics 0011222
    2004 ECM 000338902
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2003 Doremi Records 7835
    2003 Apex 7495952
    2003 2L 7
    2003 Archipel 133
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Music & Arts CD1113
    2003 Music & Arts MACD1113
    2003 Vanguard Classics 1218
    2002 Supraphon 3601
    2002 Naxos 8555785
    2002 Classica d'Oro 4020
    2002 Classica d'Oro 9003
    2001 Arkadia 78593
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 569422
    2001 Naxos Historical 8110640
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74447
    2001 Lifestyles 315019
    2000 Decca 466733
    2000 INA Memoire Vive 031
    1999 Angel Records 73332
    1999 Sony Music Distribution 60761
    1999 Monopoly 2004
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Harmonia Mundi HMX290 8030/2
    1998 ASV 235
    1997 Point Classics 267124
    1997 Albany Music Distribution 268/269
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453748
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 697082
    1996 Hyperion 22004
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 453 013-2GTA2
    1996 EBS 6030
    1995 Arabesque 6656
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 1901179
    1995 Centaur Records 2632
    1995 Gallo 673
    1994 Philips 442 565-2PM2
    1994 Naxos 550479
    1994 Sony Classical 58985
    1994 Centaur Records CRC2642/3
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 53240
    1993 Channel Classics 3592
    1993 Pearl 9935
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 431801
    1992 Hyperion 66281
    1992 Nonesuch 79152
    1990 London 417628
    1988 EMI Music Distribution 63015
    1987 CBS Records 42446
    1983 CBS Records 37251
    Brilliant Classics 93525/28
    Brilliant 92387/24
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 323
    Vanguard 56
    Americus Records 19961001
    Avie 2103
    Amado Classics 03024
    Cascade Records 2241
    Calig 50986/87
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 320
    Accord 204302
    Finlandia 98887
    Smithsonian Records 323ND
    Brioso Recordings 100
    IMP Masters 80
    Classica d'Oro 4005
    Erato
    Sony Classical Essential Classics 87378
    Brilliant 99117
    Fono Enterprise 99357
    Philips 412256
    Fono Enterprise 99360
    High Definition Classics 082
    EXL 31106
    Arkadia 606
    As Disc 623
    Grammofono 2000 78589/90
    Pearl 9461
    Monopoly 2051
    Anthony Elliott