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Hyperion Records

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Postcard depicting Brahms composing his Symphony No 1 (c1900). Austrian School, 20th century
Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44331/42
Recording details: October 1990
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: August 1991
Total duration: 19 minutes 43 seconds

'The pick of this crop has to be Brahms's Complete Chamber Music from Hyperion. Spanning more than two decades, this box contains the finest, mainly British, performances, some very recent … Brahms's two dozen chamber works are among his greatest achievements, and yield little or nothing in quality to the better known output of Mozart and Beethoven. This box contains much buried treasure' (The Mail on Sunday)

'Immerse yourself in this set of 12 CDs of Brahms's chamber music … in the last 25 years, Hyperion has managed to persuade some of the finest of chamber musicians to reveal their affection for Brahms in recordings of remarkably consistent quality … altogether life affirming music in life enhancing performances: surely one of the best buys of the year?' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This magnificent 12-CD collection … Marc-André Hamelin and the Leopold String Trio find the right gypsy touch in the First Piano Quartet … the Florestan Trio is movingly intense in the piano trios … Lawrence Power's playing of the viola alternative to the clarinet sonatas is magical. And there's much more! A superb bargain' (Classic FM Magazine)

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Violin Sonata No 2 in A major, Op 100
composer
summer 1886

Allegro amabile  [8'16]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the Sonata in A major the lyrical element is more confined than in No 1. From the outset the piano phrases are short and neatly balanced, though the brief echo in the violin suggests (like the mobile harmony) a lyrical flowering to come. But only with the second theme does the bloom really appear, and again it is the recollection of a song which is the prompt. ‘Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn …’ (‘Like melodies it steals softly through my mind …’) is another Klaus Groth poem which uses symbols to express the transient nature of experience, though here in a more abstract manner and with more specifically musical connection. Melody vanishes like the fragrance of spring flowers, and mere words cannot capture feeling: only the lyric’s blend of music and word can give the real poetry which embodies a lasting emotion. And Brahms shows in his setting (published as Op 105 No 1) that his melody and its treatment can complement the poem and deepen its effect. In its sonata context, this theme is presented in subtle rhythmic transformation by the piano, the broad duple beat of the song now yielding to a more animated triple, and initiating a passage of almost improvisatory flexibility—instrumental poetry—before the music settles to a closing figure. This too is destined to provide the source of a transformation, for the development eventually resolves into a gentle, intermezzo-like variant of it, a quite distinct passage, very unlike the continuous unfolding in the development of the first sonata. And once this passage is ended, the reprise comes directly, without the need of any connecting material.

This directness of lyric expression is just as prevalent in the finale where, as in the first sonata, Brahms manages to create a theme with remarkably similar properties, yet quite distinct character, offering opportunities for an entirely fresh response. Here it initiates a rondo, though one in which the returns are so varied as to create a sense of continuity rather than contrast. Again it is but a brief closing figure which prompts the second theme, now supported by an atmospheric writing for the piano which represents a new feature of Brahms’s handling of the medium.

The middle movement combines two types of movement into one, thus greatly extending the expressive range of the entire work: a gentle and rather gracious ‘Andante tranquillo’ alternates with a dancing ‘Vivace’. But the directness of statement is offset by the way in which the ideas recur: for the Andante returns in D major, rather than the expected tonic F, and the Vivace is in a rhythmic variation, with the violin now providing a pizzicato counterpoint. With the third and final return of the Andante, Brahms seems reluctant to make the inevitable move from D back to F: indeed, he only clinches it with the final touch of the Vivace, whose return as a coda is a ripe piece of Brahmsian humour.

from notes by Michael Musgrave © 1991

Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: The Three Violin Sonatas' (CDH55087)
Brahms: The Three Violin Sonatas
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55087  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
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