Brahms Violin Sonatas
I had not realized that there are already 19 versions of the three Brahms violin sonatas currently available. Many of these, of course are extremely good. Nevertheless, Dumay and Pires easily deserve to be considered amongst the best, for their playing is consistently mature, stylistically homogeneous and, above all, refined.
They never waste a note of the music, and yet it is always allowed to unfurl naturally. A reflective eloquence at the opening of the G major Sonata sets the mood for the entire CD. Pires contributes many lovely delicate touches and there is great breadth to her phrasing when this is required. She reminds us that she should not be labelled purely as a Mozart player.
The first movement of the A major work may be slightly slack in its cohesiveness, but in the Andante tranquillo that follows one realizes that the duo sees Brahms above all else as a lyrical dreamer. Only in the D minor Sonata does one feel the darkly intense aspect of the composer's character and here the Presto agitato finale is everything it should be in terms of tempo and storminess.
The recorded sound is pleasant on the ear, without being ideal. The piano tone is a bit muffled and wanting in colour; this is especially apparent when the two instruments are playing together. But overall this is a release of considerable distinction.'