Johannes Brahms - 3 Violin Sonatas (2020)
Johannes Brahms - 3 Violin Sonatas (2020)
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The Strad presents: an exclusive premiere of the complete Violin Sonatas of Johannes Brahms, including a full documentary about unique and remarkable instruments used.

Performers

  • Daniel Kurganov, violin
  • Constantine Finehouse, piano

Sonata No 1 in G Major, Op. 78 "Regenlied" (1878-1879)

  • 1 Vivace ma non troppo
  • 2 Adagio
  • 3 Allegro molto moderato

Sonata No 2 in A major, Op. 100 "Thun" (1886)

  • 1 Allegro amabile
  • 2 Andante tranquillo
  • 3 Allegretto grazioso / quasi andante

Sonata No. 3 in d minor, Op. 108 (1886-1888)

  • 1 Allegro
  • 2 Adagio
  • 3 Un poco presto e con sentimento
  • 4 Presto agitato

 

Instruments used

  • 1706 Joseph Guarneri filius Andrea violin
  • 1868 J.B. Streicher & Sohn "the Brahms Piano"
  • 1886 Chickering & Son Concert Grand 9'2

 

What began as a commitment to discover Brahms’s sound-world ended up as an exercise in developing personal freedom, and discovering collaboration on truly equal terms.

The Brahms Age really commenced as I first stepped into the hall for the initial recording first session. I was immediately captivated by the visual beauty of the 1868 Streicher “Brahms Piano”. Its deep wooden facade, tempered by the delicate fissures in its varnish, was complemented by a golden decal, gleaming yet clearly touched by time. The instrument's appearance was a mirror to its sound: sumptuously velvet, yet with a defining clarity.

Historical instruments have been explored extensively within the context of Baroque and Classical music. In Romantic-era music, a combination of denser compositions and the emergence of powerful orchestras and modern concert grands has led violinists into a metaphorical “arms race”. The incentives haven’t been there to explore Brahms’s sound world with instruments of the time, as the broader cultural and sonic expectations for that style of music prioritize bigger sound, sharper articulations, and pronounced projection. Raw gut strings and old pianos aren’t playing that game. Intriguingly, the realm of art gives us a foot in the door to engage in creative interference/destruction and drive taste. This mirrors the allure of great speakers whose more subdued tones draw listeners closer.

I hope this documentary and album can inspire chamber musicians to seek out growth opportunities and seize the artistic first-mover-advantage in their respective spheres. and mIt’s worth considering several questions as you watch the film:

  • How do the tonal qualities of the piano shape one’s anticipation of the violin's sound?
  • What is the relationship between a dynamics and color?
  • In the realm of chamber music (with a piano), how does one typically contend with issues of balance? Do inherent and ineradicable disparities exist between the violin and the modern concert grand piano?
  • How does the raw gut E string affect the way melodies are executed on the violin?”

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