Allegro con brio
Adagio con molto sentimento d'affetto – Attacca
Allegro – Allegro fugato
In his final years Beethoven was in poor and declining health, profoundly deaf, worried about money and beset with personal problems. But from within his despair he reached down into his innermost consciousness and found there new music; mysterious, strange music unlike anything else heard before.
The final cello sonata, in D major begins in great drama and the whole of the first movement builds on this. Then right at the end of his cello sonata oeuvre, almost too late, he finally seems to touch the cosmos with the only substantial slow movement of any of the cello sonatas. Steven Isserlis described it as “…a prayer that must surely be the most beautiful movement ever written for cello and piano.” This being Beethoven we must then come down to Earth with a bump with a fugue which really is the defiant gesture of a genius composer who knows exactly what he is doing in saying farewell to his cello sonatas; a joyous celebration, ending as though blowing out the candles.