Reacting to Chopin and Schumann -
by ROBERT ANDERSON
'... some moments might well have caused Chopin to block his ears and flee across the Channel ...'
Chopin's Cello Sonata was the last work published during his lifetime
and his first major chamber piece since the Piano Trio of almost twenty
years before. Its composition was slow and arduous. In October 1846 he wrote
about it to his family in Warsaw: 'Sometimes I am satisfied with my 'cello
sonata, and sometimes not. I throw it aside and then take it up again'.
It was dedicated to Auguste Franchomme (misspelt in the liner notes), with
whom Chopin spent holidays and entrusted some of his financial affairs.
The Sonata was played by them at Chopin's last Paris concert on 16 February
1848. Chopin still had doubts about the work. A member of the audience explained
that he had tried out the Sonata 'before some artists and intimate friends;
the first movement, the masterpiece, was not understood. It appeared to
the hearers obscure, involved by too many ideas, in short, it had no success'.
Thus Chopin omitted it when faced by 'so worldly and elegant an audience'.
Copyright © 17 July 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK