Johannes Brahms: Cello Sonatas

This CD is part of a two CD project to include the clarinet sonatas and the first violin sonata, all played by Raphael Wallfisch and John York. CD2 (NI 5974) is now available to purchase.

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A new edition of the sonatas for Brahms cello is always a motive for celebration, and more when the performers are artists like Wallfisch and York. John York is a renowned pianist, awarded with the Debussy International Prize, famous for his excellent interpretation of Poulenc and Ravel. For his part, Raphael Wallfisch is probably the best British cellist of our time, with an impressive production of more than eighty recordings and an enormous task of dissemination of British composers of the 19th and 20th century.

This interesting collection contains the Scherzo de Sonatensatz Op. Posthumous, as well as Sonatas in Fa Major Op. 99 and in My minor, Op. 38. It is the first album of a collection of two recordings that the performers dedicate to this repertoire. The second CD also includes three original works written for clarinet and violin, adapted appropriately to the cello's recording. As John York points out in the notes, these pages are an evident proof of the perfect assimilation and delight of Brahms with the classical form of the sonata, which places him at a level that is only comparable to that of Beethoven himself.

The aforementioned Scherzo is a somewhat unusual composition, never published in the life of Brahms. The composer wrote it for violin and piano, as part of a four-movement sonata written by three authors: the young Brahms, Schumann and Dietrich. Curiously, this is the only movement that is still interpreted today. Here we hear the brahms of youth, Beethovenian, a bit bold, with a trio of noble air, though unusually short and a little more recessed coda than he would later write in maturity.
As in a beautiful envelope, they open and close the album with two later sonatas. Opus 38 is a formal and serious composition, which the last Bach reminds us, while Opus 99 offers an interesting contrast: heroic, affirmative, even tormented. Thus, the fugitive and contrapuntal style of the first is a refreshing balance with the brilliant atmosphere of the sonata in Fa major, with a playful Finale, although perfectly structured. Neil Manel Frau-Cortes,

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