Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Samuel Barber

Although Barber was only 22 when he composed this Cello Sonata, he was far from a novice. His studies with Rosario Scalero, at the Curtis Institute of Music, gave him a thorough grounding in compositional technique. Written in three movements the piece reflects some of the dramatic elements and lyrical writing of Brahms and Schumann, but Barber was already developing a style that would make him one of the most successful American composers of all time.

The Sonata opens with a questing theme that contrasts well with the passionate piano writing. A more lyrical second subject fades into a development that proves that Barber was already capable of handling larger forms with aplomb. The slow second movement is lyrical, almost vocal, but this gives way to a scampering presto that finally reverts to the opening mood. The finale is an Allegro Appasionato. The opening piano solo focuses the listener's attention on the equality of the two instruments. There are references to thematic material from the previous movements which are perfectly integrated into the whole.

Championship of this work by Gregor Piatagorsky helped to established this work, from Barber's youth, as an important milestone in the American cello repertoire.