Like most people who dig underground/alternative music, musicians, authors, books, or art, I like discovering stuff that’s a step or two outside the norm.
When it comes to music, I still flip out over Led Zeppelin, Rush, Queen, ELP, Yes, Bad Company, the Beatles, and Alice Cooper. But when I discover an obscure passage of music, or a quirky band – or rare instrument like the glass harmonica, which I discovered listening to Mozart’s compositions a few years back – I get all tingly.
That goes double for Classical music. Symphony after symphony after opera after opera bores me to tears. Especially if they all sound the same, which they often do.
That’s why I like piano sonatas, cello sonatas, and other compositions that open up the space between notes to let another instrument come forward, or a melody reveal itself. There’s usually an opportunity for the music to sound different, to be magical.
Beethoven, for example, knew how to put air between notes, to let his compositions breathe. There’s no equivocation with Beethoven. His works are just powerful pieces of music that kick my ass.
Brahms, however, is another story.
In the case of Brahms’ cello sonatas (Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor Op. 38 and Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Op. 99), what we have is more notes, not necessarily something fundamentally different from everything else I’ve heard from him so far.
And that’s too bad, because the cello has the ability to dig really deep, to pluck emotional chords that can bring tears welling up in one’s eyes. It’s a mournful instrument. Combined with a piano – which can also be extremely emotional – such a sonata could be powerful stuff, indeed.
Although Movement I (“Allegro non troppo”) from Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor features Continue reading