Edvard Grieg

Sonata for cello & piano in A minor, Op. 36

    Description by Blair Johnston

    For some, it comes as a great surprise that Edvard Grieg's catalog contains five sonatas: one for piano solo, three for violin and piano, and one for cello and piano. All of these but two -- the third and last violin sonata (Op. 45) and the Cello Sonata -- are very early works, composed by Grieg in the mid-1860s. The Sonata for cello and piano in A minor, Op. 36 (1883), on the other hand, is the work of a composer almost 20 years older; while Grieg's frustrations and difficulties with traditional genres (sonata, string quartet, symphony, and the like) are well-documented in his personal letters, the Cello Sonata's urgent and energetic dramatic thrust, as well as voluptuous, satiny songfulness, have ensured its position as one of the three or four best-loved late nineteenth century cello sonatas.

    The Cello Sonata is in three movements: Allegro agitato, Andante molto tranquillo, and Allegro -- allegro molto. The first movement's opening theme is as full of sturm und drang as they come; its second gushes with a most extraordinary warmth. There is, quite unexpectedly, a little cadenza for the cellist midway through the movement, just before the recapitulation; one cannot help but notice that when the pianist enters again the music takes a rumbling, ominous tone quite like one heard in the cadenza of the famous Piano Concerto's first movement. The slow movement is in a warm F major; as the opening musical paragraph gives way to the second and third paragraphs, it becomes clear that all is not as innocent and sweetly lyrical as the lovely opening melody would suggest. Indeed, there is real desperation in the middle of the movement. After a quiet introduction, the lengthy finale assumes the shape of a dark-hued goblin-dance that ends in robust A major.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro agitato
    2. Andante tranquillo
    3. Allegro - Allegro molto e marcato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Danacord DACOCD 780
    2018 Bridge BRIDGE 9512
    2018 Avie AV 2389
    2018 Lawo Classics LWC 1150
    2017 Leaf Music LM 215
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795516
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Acqua Records AQ 424
    2015 BIS BIS 2120
    2015 Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 15005
    2015 Hyperion CDA 68079
    2014 Gramola 99034
    2014 Albany Music Distribution TROY 1485
    2014 Onyx / Onyx Classics ONYX 4120
    2014 Centaur Records CRC 3293
    2013 Centaur Records CRC 3319
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94642
    2012 Nimbus / Nimbus Records NI 5884
    2011 Divox CDX 552572
    2011 Claves 501011
    2010 Divox 252042
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2010 West Hill Radio Archives 6032
    2009 BBC Legends 4263
    2009 CRD Records CRD 3391
    2009 Signum Classics / Signum UK 172
    2009 UT3 Records / Zebralution
    2008 Quartz 2057
    2008 Doremi Records 7931/2
    2008 Virgin 3499332
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 901986
    2008 CPO 777284
    2008 Avi 8553082
    2008 Dorian 90705
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93516
    2006 Virgin Classics
    2006 Danacord 644
    2006 Praga 25022
    2006 Centaur Records 2824
    2005 Erato
    2004 ASV CDDCA 1176
    2004 Brilliant 92176
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 562203
    2002 Black Box Classics 1070
    2002 Erato / Virgin Classics 7243545505
    2000 Stradivarius 33320
    2000 Claves 500703
    1998 Philips 454 458-2PH
    1998 Caprice Records 21590
    1997 Guild 7127
    1997 ArtistLed 19701-2
    1997 Arte Nova 43316
    1995 RCA 68290
    1995 Harmonia Mundi HMN91 1550
    1995 Naxos 8550878
    1994 Virgin 45034
    1992 Le Chant du Monde 288042
    Live Classics 621
    Intaglio 705
    As Disc 11035
    G & J Records 2004
    Brilliant Classics 93516/7
    Victoria 19071
    Finlandia 95867
    Naxos 550878
    IMP Classics 72
    BBC Music Magazine 53
    Fone 8701
    D'Note 1018
    Harmonia Mundi 911779
    Adda 581128
    Kontrapunkt 32013