Brahms; Joachim

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COMPOSERS: Brahms; Joachim
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms; Joachim
WORKS: Hungarian Dances (arr. Joachim) – Brahms; Variations in E minor – Joachim
PERFORMER: Hagai Shaham (violin), Arnon Erez (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67663

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As Calum MacDonald observes in the liner note to this excellent CD, Joachim’s transcriptions of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances amounts to a Gypsy ‘art of the violin’: he employed his unrivalled understanding of the Gypsy idiom to capture the spirit of the dances possibly better than Brahms did in his piano-duet version, and certainly better than the other arrangements – for solo piano, orchestra, three players at one piano, and even military band – which were encouraged by Brahms’s eager publisher. Producing a second set of dances 12 years after the first, Brahms deepened his art dramatically, and it is these works – rather than the too-often performed dances in the first book – which make this record of particular interest. The sound-world is quite different – mellower, more introspective – and the spare economy of the scoring accentuates the music’s folk origins: you can sense the slowly moving dancers, and their grave demeanour. Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez complement each other perfectly here, evincing fire, fury, and sweet sadness, and they act as a brilliant showcase for Joachim’s work both as an arranger and a composer, even if his own works are second‑division stuff. Michael Church