Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78, 1st movement
Cello professor Anne Gastinel and student Jungin Huh take on this difficult sonata by Johannes Brahms, originally written for the violin and piano. While navigating through the piece, they discuss the strange marking of Vivace ma non Troppo present at the beginning of the piece. On the one hand, Gastinel explains, Vivace indicates something very lively and fast, but on the other hand, ma non Troppo expresses a certain calmness and tranquility. How can one accomplish both sentiments at the same time?
Additionally, the cellists work on vibrato, where and when not to do a crescendo, choosing sostenuto over a crescendo, expression, and on a more abstract matter: approaching short notes as if they are long notes and vice versa.
Maintaining the right tempo.
Adding plenty of vibrato in this piece.
Applying sostenuto over crescendo and vice versa.
Expressing the intended emotions.
Bowing and fingering.
Composed between 1878 and 1879, Johannes Brahms created this sonata in three movements, which have similarities in ideas and concepts from the two previously existing works of the composer Regenlied and Nachklang. The Sonata No 1 in G Major is sometimes referred to as Regensonate (“Rain Sonata”). Johannes Brahms dedicated the piece to his friend and violinist Joseph Joachim.
The entire duration of the piece is around 27 minutes with three movements - Vivace ma non troppo, Adagio, and Allegro molto moderato. The violin sonata No. 1 is an exceptional masterpiece, which inhabits a strong and extravagant character contrasted by a tender and emotional spirit. Written for the violin and the piano, this piece demonstrates an egalitarian partnership between both instruments: often echoing, mimicking, and bridging together with a balanced amount of lyricism and virtuosity.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Anne Gastinel's feedback and comments.
At the age of 18 she won the first prize in the Scheveningen competition.
Anne Gastinel won numerous prizes in major international competitions (Scheveningen, Prague, Rostropovitch) and began to appear all over Europe, making a lasting impact on the general public in the 1990 Eurovision Competition.
Unanimously recognized as an ambassador of the French cello school, she was selected to play for the term of one year: the legendary Matteo Gofriller cello that once belonged to Pablo Casals. In 2006, Anne Gastinel was awarded the Victoire de la Musique in the category of ‘Soloist of the Year’ and ‘Best Recording’.
Her career now takes her to perform in the leading venues all over Europe, as well as Japan, China, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, and the United States. She has appeared with great masters such as Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Kurt Sanderling. As a soloist, she regularly performs with the Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt), Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, among others.
Furthermore, as a chamber musician, she plays with Claire Désert, with whom she has recorded many albums (Poulenc, Franck, Schubert, Schumann…), with the Quatuor Hermès, Nicholas Angelich, Andreas Ottensamer, David Grimal and Philippe Cassard; Xavier Philipps and many other French cellists. For nearly 15 years, her recordings have received the highest distinctions. Her recording (Naïve) dedicated to Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Nicholas Angelich, Gil Shaham, Paavo Jarvi and the Hr-Sinfonieorchester received the ‘Choc’ of Classica magazine. Since then, she has continued to explore the extensive cello repertoire with her accomplices.
She has been teaching at the CNSMD of Lyon since 2003.
Born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833, Johannes Brahms was the son of musician Johann Jakob Brahms. Johannes Brahms began his musical education learning the piano, cello, and horn. From the age of 7-years-old, he studied the piano under Otto Friedrich Willibald Cossel.
Composer, pianist, and conductor, Brahms began his career at the end of the classical tradition (approx. 1730-1820) and established himself as a central figure in classical music’s Romantic era. His first concert tour took place in 1853 where he built a deep camaraderie with fellow musician, Robert Schumann.
His first major work presented to the public was Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra in D minor, which was performed by himself in Leipzig in 1859. In 1863, he moved to Vienna, where he was appointed conductor of Singakademie (Singing academy), which he would leave only a year later.
By 1868, Brahms achieved fame throughout Europe for the premiere of his renowned work German Requiem. Other notable works by Brahms include but are not limited to: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, op. 15, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, op. 24, Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, op. 25, Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, op. 38 Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68, Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77 Symphony No. 3 in F major, op. 78 Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98, and Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, op. 99 Quintet with Clarinet in B minor, Op. 115. Brahms has been lauded for his deep understanding of formal construction and his rendering of melodic richness, harmonic complexity, and his mastery to achieve a myriad of moods and atmosphere.
Johannes Brahms passed away on April 3,1897, in Vienna.
Photo credit: Fritz Luckhardt