Britten - Cello sonata op.65


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Britten's Cello Sonata was completed in 1961 and first performed by Rostropovich at Aldeburgh in July of that year, the sonata is in five short movements whose spare, epigrammatic style anticipates that of parts of the much larger-scale work Britten completed later in 1961, the War Requiem. Economy of material—the pizzicato ostinatos in the scherzo and sparse texture of the bizarre march—makes the sonata less assertively brilliant than Britten's early instrumental works, as if, more than before, virtuosity was less important than deeper musical concerns.


The sonata's first performance was given by dedicatee and composer at the Aldeburgh Festival on 7 July 1961. So well received was the work that the fourth and fifth movements had to be encored. Reviewing the concert in The Times, William Mann observed that Britten may well have intended the sonata 'to reflect his own impression of the character of the player to whom it is dedicated: gay, charming, an astonishingly brilliant executant, but behind all these qualities a searching musician with the mind of a philosopher'. As with many of his earlier instrumental works, Britten cast this character-portrait in the form of a multi-movement suite rather than following a traditional classical sonata archetype. The music's style is noticeably leaner and more economical than much of his earlier output, looking directly ahead to the sparser writing that followed the watershed of his next major work, the War Requiem.
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PDF format sheet music

Instrument part: 13 pages. 545 K

 

Piano part: 35 pages. 902 K

 

Britten - Cello sonata op.65 - Instrument part - first page Britten - Cello sonata op.65 - Piano part - first page
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