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Brahms: Cello Sonatas & Songs

Antonio Meneses (cello), Gerard Wyss (piano) (Avie)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Lieder (arr. cello and piano)
Antonio Meneses (cello), Gerard Wyss (piano)
Avie AV 2493   75:12 mins

Brahms’s E minor Cello Sonata, with its deep-set and introverted opening and severe fugal finale, can come across as overly dark and grumbly – quite unlike its later F major sibling, which is all flair, élan and mellow fruitfulness. One may enjoy hearing the two works together for the sheer contrast between them; and in this well-planned and spontaneous-sounding recording, there is an additional buffer zone with a selection of the composer’s Lieder, some transcribed by Norbert Salter (1868-1935) and others by David Geringas.

Antonio Meneses and Gerard Wyss show a collegial ease together, with natural and unaffected phrasing that oozes affection for the music. Not everything comes off quite ideally – the E minor Sonata occasionally falls prey to its own tendency to growliness and could use an extra sense of momentum here and there, while Meneses’s high notes at times go very slightly rogue. Still, the F major Sonata chiefly fulfils its joyous promises, with Wyss fizzing through the piano tremolandos and Meneses offering rhetoric and poise in plenty. The songs work well: Meneses’s eloquent phrasing substitutes very nicely for a baritone and the sweet-toned ‘Wiegenlied’ is a particular highlight. Recorded sound is bright and warm.

Jessica Duchen

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