Johannes Brahms - Violin Sonatas - Anne-Sophie Mutter

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Johannes Brahms - The Violin Sonatas - Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin) - Lambert Orkis (Piano) - Deutsche Grammophon 028947787679

It can be said that the chamber music of Johannes Brahms can at times be overly busy, serious, academic, pedantic, to the point of fussing so much over details as to lose track of the long melodic thread. Even his piano music can become so dense and close-knit, that the melody, unless clearly articulated by the pianist, gets lost within the thick woolly fabric of sound. These Violin Sonatas on the other hand, especially the first two, written when Brahms was in the prime of life, glow with an inner beauty and display a deep understanding of both instrument's capabilities and combines them so well as to create a seamless bond between the two, where they constantly mirror each other's actions and exchange the leading role effortlessly.

These sonatas have been recorded and performed by all the leading violinists many times over. Anne-Sophie Mutter herself recorded them almost 30 years ago now, for EMI, with Alexis Weissenberg at the piano, and that recording was good enough to stand the test of time as it is still in the active catalogue today. This new recording displays a deepened understanding of the Brahmsian idiom and a broader perception of the violin's character. It is not only played well, but there is an added diligence and consideration in bringing out the music's inherent beauty.

At the end of the liner notes recorded from a conversation that took place in December 2009, Lambert Orkis explains: "We've learned them, we've lived with them, and we've played them on various continents together, and we go through life experience, and now we bring it all to this music. Brahms is a composer who's not showing off: he's showing life, beauty, art. It's wonderful."

It's wonderful indeed to have two consummate musicians like these record music that they have grown and matured with all their lives and are now ready to share with us the beauty that lies beneath the patina of time.

Jean-Yves Duperron