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Hyperion Records

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The Wave (1917) by Christopher Richard Wayne Nevinson (1889-1946)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, USA / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67529
Recording details: May 2005
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Traugott
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: November 2005
Total duration: 25 minutes 22 seconds

'deeply considered, immensely satisfying accounts. Isserlis and Hough make a formidable team and I look forward to more duo sonatas' (Gramophone)

'[Isserlis's] current recording with Hough displaces all others: at last two musicians have taken this work and delivered a spontaneous stream of musical dialectic that makes perfect sense' (BBC Music Magazine)

'there is no doubting the sweep and passion, or the tenderness and intimacy, of their performance. These two outstanding musicians give an equally fine account of the earlier E minor sonata. In both works, and in some pleasing miniatures by Dvorak and Suk, they interact with the combined sensitivity and freedom of true chamber-music players' (The Sunday Times)

'Isserlis and Hough are perfectly matched here, offering poetic, tender and generous spirited music-making. Both have a distinctive luminescence of tone, enabling them to place emphasis on beauty, intimacy and phrasing that really speaks' (Classic FM Magazine)

'You won't find a finer or more intelligent partnership than Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough to play these mainstays of the cello repertory, nor perhaps a more imaginative or generous supporting programme. This is Brahms at its best' (The Strad)

'an evocative performance by Isserlis and his partner Stephen Hough, which marries effusive warmth and inward eloquence' (The Evening Standard)

'One of the most happily balanced chamber music discs I have auditioned in some time, this partnership between Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough, provides some thoroughly idiomatic Brahms sonatas, played with alternate tenderness and fury, as each piece requires. Hough's piano part proves as ravishing as Isserlis' commanding cello; and in a medium in which competition abounds … that is saying something. The Adagio affetuoso of the F Major Sonata may warrant your attentions at repeated hearings…this disc, while not specifically designated SACD, packs a resonance and liquid punch competitive with the finest sound imaging. Ravishing playing from the first notes, these collaborations testify to a meeting of kindred spirits on all levels. The liner notes by Isserlis capture the tenor of the pieces with a propriety bordering on veneration' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'Mr Isserlis molds his sound with a heartbreaking delicacy. You've never heard a cellist dare to take the lyrical opening of the first sonata so quietly, or inflect it so subtly. This player can also cut loose and raise the roof when it's needed. You can't pussyfoot through a movement in Brahms, and Mr Isserlis doesn't try' (The Dallas Morning News)

Cello Sonata No 1 in E minor, Op 38
composer
composed in 1862 as Allegro, Adagio and Allegretto; in 1865 Brahms added the finale and removed the original Adagio

Allegro non troppo  [13'45]
Allegro  [6'03]

Other recordings available for download
Steven Isserlis (cello), Peter Evans (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Cello Sonata No 1 in E minor Op 38 was started in 1862, when Brahms was not yet thirty, with the finale being added to the long-completed first two movements in 1865. This, his first surviving duo-sonata, is an important work, in some ways a turning-point. His previous sonata had been the Third Piano Sonata, Op 5, a work of tempestuous youth, written in 1853 and prefaced by a quotation from the romantic poetry of Sternau. The cello sonata is utterly different; it is almost an ‘historical sonata’, its roots firmly planted in the music of the past – as if Brahms was turning his back on his wild young self. The only obvious quotation is from Bach’s Art of Fugue (although the main theme of the menuetto bears a strong resemblance to that of the scherzo of Beethoven’s famous Cello Sonata in A major). This is Brahms staking his claim as the greatest ‘classical romantic’ composer of chamber music, a worthy successor to his heroes from other epochs.

The first movement, with its glorious sunset coda in E major (Brahms was the master of musical sunsets) is linked to the other two movements chiefly through the dominance of the expressive minor sixth that makes its first appearance in the second bar of the work, and continues throughout the sonata. The second movement, a charming minuet and trio, seems to pay nostalgic tribute to the world of Mozart – or perhaps to that of Schubert, with whose music Brahms was somewhat obsessed at this period. The last movement, a robust mixture of fugue and sonata form, takes its main theme from Contrapunctus 13 from the Art of Fugue – as if Brahms is looking further backwards in time as the sonata progresses.

from notes by Steven Isserlis © 2005


Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: Cello Sonatas' (CDA30005)
Brahms: Cello Sonatas
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £8.50 CDA30005  Hyperion 30th Anniversary series — Last few CD copies remaining  
'Brahms: Cello Sonatas' (CDA66159)
Brahms: Cello Sonatas
MP3 £5.99FLAC £5.99ALAC £5.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66159  Archive Service; also available on CDS44331/42  
'Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music' (CDS44331/42)
Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44331/42  12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

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