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Cello Sonata in A minor (Henri Duparc)




Introduction. Presto appassionato – Lento – Andante furioso


Probably composed in 1867 by the nineteen-year-old Duparc, this sonata remained undiscovered for many years. Because the complete score had been destroyed, it had to be recreated from manuscripts and drafts kept by Duparc’s daughter. The work did not receive its premiere until 1948, when it was performed by Pierre Fournier to celebrate the centenary of the composer’s birth. Although this sonata had no ambitions to compete with the masterpieces of the cello repertoire, the fact that it is one of Duparc’s few instrumental works, and his only foray into the field of chamber music, make it no less valuable. The composer adopts the traditional fast-slow-fast three-movement form, but uses a variety of techniques more commonly employed in the field of song. Particularly noteworthy is his propensity to condense material and unify the mood within a movement. Duparc certainly struggles to flesh out the discourse with such limited motifs (for example in the finale, with its unusual instruction Andante furioso, in which a swaggering cello cuts loose). There are also, here and there, premonitions of his future songs. In the middle of the first movement, L’Invitation au voyage emerges in the harmonies and the flowing piano writing. The accompaniment of the Lento, whose intensely melancholy mood is surprising from the hand of such a young composer, contains a depressive motif reminiscent of that in Soupir; the cello, like La Vie antérieure (Duparc’s last song), seems to be telling the world about “the secret grief which made [it] languish”.

    Person - 1
  • DUPARC, Henri (1848-1933)
  • Themes - 3
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello
  • Musique de chambre – La sonate pour violoncelle en France