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Allegro appassionato in B minor for cello and piano, op. 43 (Camille Saint-Saëns)




In the early 1870s, Saint-Saëns wrote two major works for the cello repertory: the first Cello Concerto in 1872 and, in December of the same year, the first Cello Sonata dedicated to the cellist, Jules Lasserre (1838-1906). The Allegro appassionato, composed during the same period, was also dedicated to this instrumentalist. Lasserre, who regularly partnered Saint-Saëns, frequently performed in France, despite living in London since 1869. The Allegro appassionato may well have been intended for use as an encore, as it is a brilliant piece which keeps the stringed instrument centre stage. In sonata form without development, the work opposes the tonal zones of the two themes (B minor for the first, and the relative D major for the second element, which is recapitulated in the unexpected key of C major). The writing, however, remains relatively coherent, since it combines rhythmic dynamism (due in particular to the use of syncopation) with intense lyricism and the brilliance of the more virtuosic passages. There is some confusion about the date of the Allegro appassionato’spremiere: according to Dandelot, the work was played for the first time by its dedicatee on 8 February 1873. However, we know that, on that day, Saint-Saëns was taking part in a concert at the Société Nationale de Musique, whose programme makes no mention of the Allegro appassionato. This short piece, now a standard work in the cello repertory, owes its popularity to Pablo Casals, who tirelessly championed it in the early 20th century.

    Persons - 2
  • CASALS, Pablo (1876-1973)
  • SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)
  • Themes - 2
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello