Brahms - Violin Sonata No 1
Georg Kulenkampff (vn) Georg Solti (pf)
Originally on Decca K1705-7, available now on Urania.
The recording balances well the piano both aloft and alow. Perhaps its tone is a shade dry, but that presumably is the player's affair. I do not know either of the two at 'first ear'. The violin is always finely outlined, with a tense strength that for me is a shade restrained.
The First Sonata did not come out until Brahms was well on in years (1878-9) it was the product of a happy summer holiday. The sensibility is sweet, tender, strong, yet never loudly outspoken. The players give us all the requisite strength, without very notable tenderness. It is a wee bit sober: but then, it can be argued, Brahms did not spill over. Yet he mght have been treated a trifle more smilingly. In the development there is splendid partnership and aplomb. I think the violinist could make rather more of that opening phrase, which so pervades the work. He is very true and pure in tone, if not extremely warm. The playing is shapely, strong, and such as I think Brahms would have approved.
The work of the partners in this sonata is particularly apt, neat, gracious, without the least sentimentality: with perhaps, as I suggested, even a trace of dryness that does not at all connote dullness: rather it is the opposite of sweetness, as in wine. There is a curious little inward withdrawnness in the finale, I feel: very typical Brahms, musing happily, self-contained, always solitary, yet the philosopher who cannot demand love, only offer it sullenly.