david finckel (cello) & wu han (piano)

Duo Programs - 2021-22 season

I. The Unfolding of Music

Bach: Sonata in G Major for Viola da gamba and Keyboard, BWV 1027 (1720)

Beethoven: Sonata in C Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 102, No. 1 (1815)

Mendelssohn: Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 58 (1842–43)

Debussy: Sonata in d minor for Cello and Piano (1915)

Britten: Sonata in C Major for Cello and Piano, op. 65 (1960–61)

With works spanning nearly a quarter of a millennium, David Finckel and Wu Han lead listeners through the extraordinary evolution of classical music. Beginning with Bach’s vibrant sonata for the viola da gamba and harpsichord – the ancestors of the cello and piano – the program transitions seamlessly to Beethoven’s experimental sonata from the twilight of the Classical period, whose opening recollects the music of Bach. Mendelssohn, who paved the way for full-blown Romanticism, is featured in his second sonata, an ebullient, virtuosic work that pushed the capabilities of the instruments to their limits at the time. Debussy, universally regarded as the inspiration for musical modernism, composed his only cello sonata late in his life, the short work becoming the most important work for the cello in the Impressionist style. The program concludes with the extraordinary sonata by the renowned Englishman Benjamin Britten, the first of five masterworks he composed for Rostropovich. David Finckel was privileged to study the work with Rostropovich, gaining priceless insight into the sonata's conception through the intimate knowledge of its dedicatee.


II. French Feast

Debussy: Sonata in d minor for Cello and Piano (1915)

Saint-Saens: Sonata No. 1 in C-Major, Op. 32

Debussy: Nocturnes and Scherzo for Cello and Piano

Cesar Franck: Sonata for Cello and Piano in A-Major


This unique program reveals the great affinity that French composers had for the cello. Spanning the half-century that bridged the Romantic, Impressionist and Modern eras, essential French qualities emerge: the deep dedication to tradition and craft that lends intensity and rigor to the works of Saint-Saens and Franck; the fervent nationalism (in the wake of France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War) that led composers such as Debussy to describe himself as "A French Musician"; and the ethereal, ephemeral harmonies and textures that imbued music of the Impressionist style with the same luminescence as the era's painters. 


III. Ludwig van Beethoven: The Five Sonatas for Piano and Cello (1796-1815)

About the Beethoven Cycle program, David Finckel and Wu Han comment: “We’ve mentioned more than once that if we did not have these five great sonatas from the composer we revere above all others, that we might not even be playing duos! That is how essential we consider these works, not only to our professional lives but to our inner selves as musicians. There is no substitute for learning these pieces if one hopes to be a serious cellist, especially on the recital stage. We are happy that we learned and recorded them early in our career, as they have taught us much about music and about ourselves along the way, and they continue to be an irreplaceable facet of our musical lives. It has been a joy for us to share this cycle with audiences on three continents through performances of it in every season so far in our career.”

Please advise with your preferred program and we will confirm with the artist. (8/20)

Trio programs for 2021-22 season
(with Philip Setzer, violin)

Program 1:

Beethoven: Trio in G-Major, Op. 1, No. 2

Mendelssohn: Trio in D-Minor, Op. 49

Dvorak: Trio in E-Minor, Op. 90 (“Dumky”)


Program 2: From Haydn

Haydn: Trio in D-Minor, Hob XV:23

Beethoven: Trio in D-Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”)

Dvorak: Trio in F-Minor, Op. 65


In a program which traces the evolution of the piano trio, from the epicenter of Viennese classicism to the age romantic nationalism, a crescendo of sonic breadth and emotional intensity creates palpable excitement. The program’s title indeed pays tribute to Haydn, the father of the symphony, the string quartet and the piano trio, whose inexhaustible creativity paved the way – and set the bar high – for Beethoven to inherit his mantle in the early 19th century. Dvorak’s turbulent and touching trio in f minor can be heard as his tribute to his advocate Brahms, such is its richness of texture and traditional structure. Dvorak’s inimitable lyricism and melting harmonies make the trio’s slow movement, opened with a gorgeous cello solo, one of chamber music’s most popular works.


Program 3: Beethoven Journey

Trio in Eb-Major, Op 1, No. 1

Trio in D-Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”)

Trio in Bb-Major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”)


Beethoven’s creative journey was music’s most dramatic and consequential, as the fiercely independent composer wrestled not only with musical concepts but also his encroaching deafness and family turmoil. This program samples the three high points of Beethoven’s stylistic evolution, from his earliest published compositions, filled with brash confidence, to his middle “heroic” period, in which appeared his most popular works such as the 5th Symphony, and his so-called “late” period, in which Beethoven miraculously ventured into music’s future. Representing that final style of composition is his magnificent “Archduke” Trio, his final piano trio,which, although composed considerably before the Beethoven’s twilight years, breathes the same rarified air as his immortal late string quartets.


Please advise with your preferred program. Some additional combinations from the above may be possible upon request and with approval by the trio. (8/20)