Sonatas and concertos
for the cello are few, for it takes a composer of experience
and imagination to accompany the cello with piano or orchestra
in such a way that the soloist shall have a clear-sounding
part and genuine interplay with an accompaniment that does
not betray reliance on a few types of texture or too frequent
accommodation to an assertive partner.
Moeran's experience and imagination need no demonstration,
and his new Sonata for Cello and piano quite hides any difficulties
he may have had in surmounting the demands mentioned. It is indeed
one of his finest works - finer, perhaps, than more ambitious works,
such as the G minor Symphony - for there is in each of its three
movements that consistency of form and quality which a rhapsodic
composer can hope to achieve only in his full maturity.
With such a composer the melodic line takes precedence,
and his themes must grow to climax organically; not for him the
modern habit of nagging a few little figures into the twitching
semblance of contrapuntal vitality, for counterpoint is more than
imitative rhythms, and rhythms more than units of metre.
Every piece of this work is genuinely impassioned,
and one cannot find a point at which the interest flags or the material
belongs to a miniature conception. Indeed, since Delius's Cello
Sonata, there seems to have been no better work in the romantic
and rhapsodic style that so well suits the cello, for the style
of Rubbra's splendid sonata does not invite comparison with Moeran's.