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Franz Schubert - Music for Cello and Piano

Music > Chamber Music

Sonata in A minor, D. 821 ('Arpeggione' Sonata)

The arpeggione, a form of bowed guitar, was invented or at least constructed by the Viennese maker Johann Georg Staufer in 1823. This short-lived instrument had six strings, tuned like the guitar, and 24 metal frets fixed to the fingerboard.

Its only exponent of significance was Vincenz Schuster, who published a tutor for the arpeggione with the firm of Diabelli. It was for Schuster that Schubert wrote, in 1824, the so-called Arpeggione Sonata, a work that now forms part of the repertoire of the cello and, in further transcription, of the viola.

The first movement opens with a theme offered by the piano and repeated, according to custom, by the cello, with a version of the melody that is slightly extended, leading to a second, livelier theme and the conclusion of the 'first part of the movement with plucked chords from the cello.

Much of the earlier material re-appears in the central development, which ends in a brief cadenza that re-introduces the first theme in recapitulation. The Adagio, after a short piano introduction, offers a fine singing melody for the cello solo, to the closing Allegretto, opening with a lifting theme that shows all Schubert's facility of invention.

A contrasting D minor episode recalls the rhythm of the first movement, giving way again to the first theme. New themes appear, before the D minor episode re-appears in A minor, to lead in turn to the finalreturn of the first melody.

Listen to the Arpeggione Sonata, D. 821

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