Who knew that Chopin could write for cello?
Over the last few days I've been listening obsessively to Chopin's Sonata for Piano in Violoncello in G minor op. 65, performed by Martha Argerich and Mstislav Rostropovich . It's a gorgeous piece. The first movement (Allegro Moderato) opens on a characteristically Chopin-like note - a few soft raindrops of sound rippling rapidly into a deluge, the plunging, breathless momentum of that chromatic start broken not, as you expect, by silence, but by the sombre note of a cello that seems to insist, for a moment, on order. But then it too, trembles into passion, and what follows is fifteen minutes of music that is at once frenzied and lyrical, at once tender and ferocious. Heartpounding explosions of desire alternate with glimpses of pure song; time and time again the natural calm of the cello is betrayed by the piano's restlessness, and time and time again the piano itself is soothed, turns contemplative.
The second movement opens with a scherzo's natural staccato-ness, but hidden in its heart is a lovely melody, two minutes of lilting song for cello that hardly seems to need the piano's whispered encouragement. Then it's on to the third movement (Largo), a tiny gem that could have come straight out of Beethoven. Gone is the delicate intricacy one associates with Chopin - in its place we get a theme of simple yet stunning beauty, every note full and echoing, as if connected to some deeper, more fundamental sadness.
Finally, the fourth movement, Allegro, the piano sparkling, the cello humming like wings, the soaring energy of the finale rushing you breathlessly forward. One always knew that Chopin was a genius with the piano, but one never suspected he could write something so moving for cello as well.
 The latter, by the way, is apparently desperately ill in hospital.