A preview of the December 2017 issue’s Masterclass, which features detailed performance suggestions and marked-up sheet music by Johannes Moser on the first and second movements of Brahms E minor Cello Sonata no.1 op.38

Johannes Moser continues The Strad’s marked-up sheet music series in association with Henle Verlag with the first and second movements of Brahms E minor Cello Sonata – giving bowings, fingerings and ideas for interpretation in our December 2017 issue. Download now on desktop computer or via the The Strad App, or buy the print edition

This sonata is filled with amazing artistry from the start: the opening melody, set on the lowest string, is dark and sinister, with a sense of disquiet. It is one of my favourite pieces and I frequently teach it to my students in Cologne. However, many cellists do not pay enough attention to what is actually written on the page. There is nothing wrong with falling in love with a certain way of interpreting the music, but I think we need to remind ourselves what is subjective and what was the composer’s actual intention. Looking carefully at what Brahms wrote, rather than listening to recordings to guide our interpretations, leads us to see details that are often overlooked.

Brahms cover

Working with the piano

Brahms said of this sonata that the pianist is by no means an accompanist, but an equal partner. The relationship between the parts is conversational throughout – even combative at times. If you don’t know the piece well, the shifting down-beats can give you a weightless feeling that makes you fall over. Playing from the piano score is a great way to learn the music without having to second-guess your colleague’s rhythms!

To read the full Masterclass article by Johannes Moser and see the marked-up sheet music, download The Strad’s December 2017 issue on desktop computer or via the The Strad App, or buy the print edition