Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 04/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This lovely disc was warmly received on its appearance in 1993 and has been a favourite of mine since I first looked for a CD replacement for the excellent "Classics for Pleasure" issue on LP.
Listening to, and reviewing, the 'Cello Sonatas prompted to return to it and I was not disappointed. I should hardly have been surprised by the energy, attack and precision of the playing given that the chamber ensemble is made up of members of the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields headed by the estimable Kenneth Sillito, but it's always a pleasure to find that a recording is as good as one remembers. The 1992 recording, made at Snape Maltings, is full and rich with something of the hall ambience about it - I have no idea why a previous reviewer complains about a "swimming pool acoustic."
This is comparatively early Brahms but already evincing his trademark characteristics: a warm, virile lyricism alternating with bitter-sweet melancholy and heroic determination. The scrupulous craftsmanship is there, too: Brahms makes much of the variations of the noble theme in the slow movement of No. 1 and in the first movement of No. 2, the recurring ascending figure which spells out "AGADHE" (in German notation), i.e "Agathe" - the name of the woman whose engagement he broke off - is exploited in masterly fashion. Tempi, phrasing and intonation seem ideal to me - one to buy."