Robert L. Berkowitz | Natick, MA United States | 11/02/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was glad to read the last reviewer's comments because I, too, found this disc to be disappointing.The Brahms Violin Sonatas are among my all-time favorite works. I own many recordings of them, and I was eager to listen to this one when I first obtained it, particularly because the Penguin guide gave it such a favorable review. This recording does not take flight the way that the partnership of Perlman and Ashkenazy does. Perlman and Barenboim tend to take faster tempos and, as the last reviewer commented, the violin sounds thin in this live recording. Moreover, Barenboim sometimes sounds tentative to me.The Penguin guide clearly prefers this performance over the Perlman/ Ashkenazy partnership stating that Perlman and Ashkenazy avoid underlying tensions and highlight the more lyrical aspects of this music. This music is intensely lyrical, and yet the complex interplay between the two instruments is highlighted beautifully in that perfectly-balanced recording. Perlman and Barenboim don't have the same advantage.The previous reviewer liked the Suk/ Katchen partnership. That was my first recording of this music and it opened my ears and my heart to this music. However, I now prefer Perlman/ Ashkenazy to Suk/ Katchen. Other excellent recordings include Szeryng/ Rubinstein, Zukerman/ Barenboim, Amoyal/ Chiu (although the artists' breathing is very audible) and Laredo/ Pommier."
BORDERLINE BRAHMS AT BEST
Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 11/09/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you can get past Perlman's swooning, vibrato-immersed violin playing, the rather thin sound of this live recording (which, by the way, is noted nowhere in the liner notes, on the CD, or on the back of the jewel box), and the intrusive applause, then, well, you might enjoy these performances. Perhaps not. Of course, since these ARE live performances, a certain latitude must be given; however, that said, I still find this Brahms wanting... too often. If anything, Barenboim pulls more interesting detail from this music than does Perlman, whose closely-miked violin tends to constantly overshadow his partner's piano. These artists try admirably, but there are simply too many moments of sloppy, stilted ensemble work, too much "pointing," and an overall sense that an imbalance exists in more than just the recording itself.
[Running time: 65:50]
Perfectly executed live performance!
Melvyn M. Sobel | 04/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A well balance duo. These 3 sonatas for piano and violin are very difficult to play. You need the heavy but firm, not strident, Brahms touch. You can find a lot of complexes rythms and it is very easy to lose the tempo, especially in the scherzos. Perlman singing at his best level, a very inspired performance. A good team work of these two virtuosos. Bravo maestro!"
katja_r | 09/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoy the music on this CD very much. These are the complete works of Sonata for Piano and Violin by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), and they are performed with technical competence as well as an emotional expression which matches the demanding criteria of the these pieces. The G Major Sonata strikes me as melancholy. Although it is easy to appreciate because the melody is captivating, the emotions are difficult to contain. The notes provide a bit of biographical background which aided in my appreciation. Michael Struck writes, "the expressive adagio was intended and understood by Brahms to be an explicit sign of his sympathy for Felix (who had previously played the violin very intensively!) and for Clara." Brahms was godfather to Robert and Clara Schumann's youngest son, Felix, who died at age 24 during the time this sonata was under development (1878-79). The first movement begins with the introduction of a tender theme on the violin which builds and subsides as grief often does. The adagio is introduced by the piano. An even more heart wrenching melody is extracted from the violin. The notes mention that, "the dotted rhythm in the opening of the main theme is the focal point for the thematic material of the two previous movements as well" as the third. Brahms is noted for elevating the use of rhythm in importance equal to the role of melody in his music, so, I found this sonata to be an instructive example of that distinctive character of his music. In the A Major Sonata, Struck finds similarities with Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, op 105. "The middle movements of both works fuse elements of slow movement character with those of scherzo quality." This sonata is again quite lyrical with an accessible melody, even so, I found it to be a bit sombre. I enjoyed hearing the piano and the violin exchange the melody which vivifies as it builds to a crescendo with striking chords. Both Perlman and Barenboim are exceptional in their expression. The second movement is a bit more lively as the scherzo element is more prominent. The dance appears in playful snippets in between reflective moments. I found this made the somber sections even more striking as the upbeat parts echoed them in contrast. The third movement was at once enticing and mysterious to me. The opening and closing movements of the D Minor Sonata "attain a depth of expression for the most part not found in the sonatas in major keys. The 'espressivo' alternation of dark and light in the opening allegro movement arises from a combination of disparate elements: the almost 'endless' 24-bar violin melody of the main theme modulates to the dominant key...; the shadowy piano accompaniment is characterised by unison interjections, in which eighth-note figures are set off against one another, interrupted by the conflict between duplet and triplet movement in quarter-note values," observes Struck. This is, by far, the most complex of the three, in my opinion. Less than a minute into the first movement, tension is created between the two instruments. Each seems to be going its own direction with only a passing obligatory glance at unity. I was reminded of two people in the same room together who do not enjoy each other's company, but are forced to tolerate each other. The adagio plods along with intermittent chords from the piano while the violin sings a tragic song. At about halfway through the adagio, there is some reconciliation as the chords now take on a slightly staccato feel. The ending was uplifting to me. "The third movement combines scherzo and variation elements in a most artful and effortless way," read the notes, "a melancholic tour-de-force of compositional mastery." This is my favourite movement. The two instruments are working closely together -- the friends have reconciled. The final movement begins with a strident rush, and ends with a sense of exhilaration. I feel invigorated. If you are interested in music which expresses a wide range of emotion, or if you are interested in the presentation of Brahms' ideas through the medium of the Piano & Violin Sonata of the Romantic Period, this CD will be interesting to you."