Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 99, 1st movement
Professor Marc Coppey demonstrates the importance of teamwork and balance between the cello and piano in this Brahms sonata. With this, he highlights moments where his student Beltran Calderan Bosom can create more of a sense of duality by listening to the piano and adjusting rhythm, articulation, and color of sound to match. In addition to blending with the piano, Coppey encourages some lightness and energy in the character to achieve a true allegro vivace.
Coppey also helps the student find an open, singing quality of sound and a sostenuto that will ensure that the cello rings in a performance hall. This is specifically achieved by loosening the grip on the bow, readjusting the weight distribution of the hands, and feeling the depth of the string without exerting excessive pressure.
How the key of F major dictates the character of this piece.
Achieving an open, free quality of sound.
Releasing tension in bow.
Sustaining the sound while maintaining the energy of vivace.
Following the piano to make informed decisions.
Brahms composed his second cello sonata in 1886 for Robert Hausmann, his close friend and the cellist in the illustrious Joachim String Quartet. One of his later chamber compositions, this substantial work pushed the boundaries of both the piano and cello. Given the virtuosic and dynamic piano part, the cellist must compete with a powerful sound and strong mastery of tremolo, pizzicato, and high register playing. The first movement, Allegro vivace, may have been confusing to audience members at the time due to fragmented themes, unusual melodic leaps and rhythms, and dissonant harmonies. The second movement, Adagio affettuoso, unexpectedly begins in the key of F-sharp major before transitioning to a more somber F minor. The cello starts in Pizzicato and eventually takes over with a captivating high register melody. The Scherzo movement, marked Allegro passionato, is lively yet turbulent, contrasted with a more lyrical trio section. The piece concludes with Allegro molto, a short rondo that vacillates between a charming melody and a more strident march, eventually driving to a bright finish.
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 Marc Coppey’s feedback and comments.
In 1988 won the two highest prizes of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition: the first prize and the special prize for best Bach performance.
Marc Coppey is a critically acclaimed musician and is considered to be one of today’s leading cellists worldwide. Originally from Strasbourg, France, Coppey began his musical training at the Strasbourg Conservatory before attending the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the University of Indiana Bloomington. In 1988 at only 18-years-old, Coppey won first prize and special prize for best Bach performance at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany. Since then, Marc Coppey has regularly performed as a soloist with leading orchestras in collaboration with numerous distinguished conductors. Such conductors include but are not limited to: Eliahu Inbal, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Emmanuel Krivine, Alan Gilbert, and many more. He appears regularly in some of the most prestigious concert halls across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. In addition to his solo concert career, Marc Coppey is a professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and leads masterclasses all over the world. What’s more, Marc Coppey lends his expertise in the arts and is the Artistic Director of the Musicales de Colmar chamber music festival as well as the Musical Director of the Zagrebacki solisti (Zagreb Soloists). In 2014, he was named the Officer des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.
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