Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms – violin sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3
PERFORMER: Renaud Capuçon (violin)Nicholas Angelich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 545 7312
Competing versions of these three

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sonatas are legion (think of such

classics as Szeryng and Rubinstein’s

recording on RCA, or Suk and

Katchen’s on Decca), yet I greatly

enjoyed this beautifully recorded

new account. More precisely, I

enjoyed the A major, and was even

more enthused by the D minor.

In these two works Renaud

Capuçon and Nicholas Angelich

are absolutely inside the music,

completely responsive to the play

of expressive light and shade, and

the way this goes hand in glove

with the unmatched intricacy and

vitality of Brahms’s rhythmic sense.

They can be warmly expressive,

with Capuçon unfolding a rich

yet intimate cantabile (as in the

first movement of the A major, or

the D minor’s slow movement),

yet powerfully driven (as in their

thrilling account of the D minor’s

finale, and more subtly in their

articulation of that sonata’s plangent

first-movement development).

The G major is beautifully done,

of course, but the players subscribe

to the unfortunate modern tendency

to take its tempos too slow, and

spin it out to wring every last drop

of loveliness from it (forgetting

that Brahms first conceived it as

a sonatina for his godson Felix

Schumann to learn the violin

with). If everything was up to the

standard of the D minor (which is

superb), the disc would merit five

stars. As it is, it doesn’t quite match

the Schlomo Mintz/Itamar Golan

version from Avie which I recently

reviewed (in the May edition), nor

yet my long-standing preferred

version of Augustin Dumay and

Maria João Pires, which while

never going to emotional extremes

gets across the lyrical and dramatic

essence of these works with the

utmost cogency and minimum of

fuss. Nonetheless, this new release

can be safely recommended.

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Calum MacDonald