Brahms Violin Sonatas Nos 1 - 3

Beautiful sound-picture, but is this really how Brahms heard the sonatas?

Author: 
DuncanDruce

Brahms Violin Sonatas Nos 1 - 3

  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3

Here’s an interesting foray into period performance. The 1870 Streicher piano used by Grigorieva has a very different sonority from the early Steinways that have featured on some recent recordings – softer in quality, and though the bass is powerful enough, the sound appears to decay more rapidly. Korol’s violin is gut-strung and, very correctly, he confines himself to a quite narrow vibrato, applied selectively. The textures are unusually clear, and, in many places, the sound-picture is as beautiful as it is distinctive – the opening of Op 78 is exceptionally soft and poetic, the development section of Op 108’s first movement deeply mysterious.

Grigorieva and Korol have succeeded, then, in recreating a lost violin-and-piano sonority, with excellent balance and blend. But if their desire is to get close to how a performance of these sonatas in Brahms’s day would have sounded, I’m not persuaded. Korol’s cool, refined playing eschews the expressive slides, pervasive rubato and passionate approach we can hear from violinists like Joachim and Arnold Rosé who worked with Brahms and survived to make gramophone recordings. Similarly, Grigorieva’s very precise and occasionally rather dry playing doesn’t exactly tally with Fanny Davies’s description of Brahms the pianist – “free, very elastic and expansive”. The trick, very difficult to achieve, would be to absorb all the performance-practice lessons and then play these wonderful sonatas with the warmth and spontaneity of the best modern duos, for example Pamela Frank and Peter Serkin (Decca, 5/98 – nla).

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2018