Sonata for Cello and Piano D.821 ‘Arpeggione’

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
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Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Performance date: 06/07/2017

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1825

Duration: 00:26:35

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Artists: Dénes Várjon - [piano]
Pieter Wiespelwey - [cello]

Arpeggione was a strange instrument invented in 1823 by Johann Georg
Stauffer in Vienna. Also known as the Guitarre d’Amour, it was
derived from the Baroque viola da gamba. It was about the size of a
cello with six strings and a fretboard but shaped like a guitar.
Like the viola da gamba, it was held between the knees and
 played with a bow.  Schubert’s friend the cellist and
guitarist Vincent Schuster mastered this odd creation and it was
for him that Schubert wrote this delightful sonata  in
1824. The instrument never caught on and was soon
abandoned, although Schuster wrote a playing method in 1825.
The Sonata was published in a cello version in
1871, which  is how it is  usually played today, though the
instrument went a fifth higher than the cello. The word Arpeggione is
derived from
the harp

piano opens the first movement, followed  by  the
cello ten bars later; together they present a dark, unusually
meditative theme for the first subject of a Sonata. However it does
contain the seeds of a second, cheeky theme which quickly follows. A
totally new lyrical melody follows later, beginning in the piano to a
pizzicato accompaniment before being combined with the opening
material, particularly the cheeky idea.  The development swings
back and forth between these well-contrasted elements in a most
engaging fashion. The movement ends as it began with a calm sequence
and two final chords. This may not be Schubert at his most profound
but it is most entertaining and holds the listener’s attention

E major slow movement is the heart of the work – a wonderful,
cantabile melody, as fine as any Schubert created for his best songs.
It is a long soulful cantilena and rather than develop it to any
degree, Schubert spins it out with great feeling. It leads straight
into the subdued mood that opens the Rondo finale. The principal
rondo theme is another lovely lyrical theme presented fully before
moving to the first contrasting section or episode which brings back
that cheeky idea from the first movement. A gentle dance-like second
episode follows but the cheeky tune pushes its way in again, Schubert
must have had a particular liking for it. The Sonata ends in a
gentler mood bringing back the rondo theme at a leisurely pace,
leading to a simple closure.