Cello Sonata No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 38, 1st movement

Cello Sonata No. 1 in E Minor,  Op. 38, 1st movement

Cello Sonata No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 38, 1st movement

Johannes Brahms

Jens Peter Maintz's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Music sheet annotated by  Jens Peter Maintz  is available 45 min Cello

In this cello masterclass, Jens Peter Maintz and Izak Nuri work on articulation, legatos, and vibratos.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass 

Jens Peter Maintz works with Izak Nuri to play with more expression and connection in the first movement of Brahms’ E minor cello sonata. Maintz discusses the background of this work and the importance of playing in a Brahmsian style, while still never abandoning the obvious homage to Bach. He encourages Nuri to also have a thorough knowledge of the whole score and work to balance and connect with the piano. Maintz helps Nuri find a more connected legato to create long lines rather than individual notes. He encourages the student to experiment with vibrato, tempo, and dynamics, and exaggerate these choices to a point outside his comfort zone to achieve maximum expression. 

What we learn in this masterclass

  1. Creating a more connected legato.

  2. Differentiating the Brahmsian qualities from those that are an homage to Bach.

  3. Having more freedom in tempo and expression.

  4. Knowing the full score and balancing with the piano.

  5. Experimenting with the use of vibrato. 

Cello Sonata No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 38 by Johannes Brahms

Brahms composed his first cello sonata between 1862-65, though it was not published until 1866, after it had undergone several revisions, including the omission of its slow movement. Brahms was insistent that the piano should be equal in voice to the cello, causing the cellist at the initial reading to protest that he could not hear his own cello line over Brahms’ piano playing. The piece is also an homage to J.S. Bach, drawing thematic inspiration from Bach’s The Art of Fugue.

The Allegro non troppo is an extensive first movement in sonata form, with frequent shifts in dynamics and intensity. The piano and cello weave together a passionate dialogue; each instrument sometimes acts as the melody, and other times as the harmony or bass. The second movement, Allegretto quasi Menuetto, is subdued in dynamic and gracious character, often using staccato, in contrast to the lyrical trio section. The final movement, Allegro, consists of fugal material within a sonata form. The energetic and expressive music leads to an exhilarating conclusion. 

  • Date:15 April 2021
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:45 min
  • Spoken language:English

Sheet music

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 Jens Peter Maintz’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music cello sonata no. 1 in e minor,  op. 38, 1st movement

Jens Peter Maintz

Jens Peter Maintz

1994 he won first prize at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich.

Jens Peter Maintz enjoys an outstanding reputation as a versatile soloist, highly sought-after chamber musician, and committed cello teacher.

Originally from Hamburg, Germany, he studied with David Geringas and took part in masterclasses with other great cellists such as Heinrich Schiff, Boris Pergamenschikow, Frans Helmerson, and Siegfried Palm. He was further influenced by his intensive chamber music study with Uwe-Martin Haiberg and Walter Levin. In 1994, he won first prize in the ARD International Music Competition, which was the first time to be awarded to a cellist in 17 years.

He gathered several years of valuable orchestral experience as Principal Cello of the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester in Berlin, and travelled the world as a member of the renowned Trio Fontenay. Since 2006, Jens Peter Maintz has been principal cello of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, on the invitation of Claudio Abbado. His solo career has brought him into contact with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt, Marek Janowski, Dmitry Kitajenko, and more. He has appeared as a soloist with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig MDR Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Den Haag Residenzorchester and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Maintz’s Sony Classical CD of solo works by Bach, Dutilleux, and Kodaly won the ECHO-Klassik award. Additionally, his highly acclaimed recording of Haydn’s cello concertos with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen was released on the Berlin Classics label. 

Since 2004, he has been professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he teaches a highly popular and successful cello class. Many of his students are prizewinners in important international competitions, and some hold leading positions in major orchestras.


Johannes  Brahms

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

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