Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op.78 (1878) [26:14]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Violin Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105 (1851) [16:57]
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Three Romances for violin and piano, Op.22(1853) [11:11]
Jennifer Pike (violin), Tom Poster (piano)
rec. 26-28 September 2012, Potton Hall, Dulwich, Suffolk
CHANDOS CHAN10762 [54:27]
On this disc we have two of the UK’s finest younger musicians. Jennifer Pike who won “Young Musician of the Year” in 2002, aged 12, has garnered praise from many sources. Tom Poster has had an equally successful start to his career. During my time in Oxford I was able to see him in concert on several occasions playing concertos and was particularly struck by his brilliant performance of the Emperor Concerto. I had high hopes for this disc and was not disappointed.
Brahms’ first violin sonata was composed in Pörtschach am Wörthersee during the summers of 1878 and 1879. The three movements share themes from two songs "Regenlied" and "Nachklang". It is sometimes known as the “Rain Sonata”. The sonata is often described as having a wistful quality and this is captured from the start. Without being boring on the subject I always think it’s important for the two performers to be equal and this is achieved to good effect. The slow movement is almost painful in its beauty and the colouring of Pike’s playing is most striking. They play throughout in true chamber music fashion without undue demonstration but achieve a true partnership. I enjoyed this very much indeed. Perhaps this is a good time to mention the recording which typically for Chandos and Potton Hall is first rate. There are many fine recordings of this work and some listeners may prefer a disc of all Brahms’ sonatas but this may safely be placed in the top rank.
Schumann, like the younger Brahms, wrote three violin sonatas, and very fine they are too, although they are not as well known as they deserve. They have suffered due to the doubts of the first performer Joachim who discarded the Violin Concerto of 1853. Schumann also was unhappy with the result "I did not like the first Sonata for Violin and Piano; so I wrote a second one, which I hope has turned out better". The sonata begins in passionate manner and the players are very good at conveying this. The Allegretto second movement has a sombre beginning before moving into what the very useful notes describe as an “elfin dance”. Pike and Poster play this contrasting movement admirably although there seemed to be more sounds of breathing than ideal. The third movement has something in common with Mendelssohn while the players are perfectly in accord in the somewhat frantic finale. As an aside, when published in 1851, Hofmeister described it as a sonata for piano and violin.
Clara Schumann’s Drei Romanzen are charming pieces and illustrate that she deserves to be remembered as a composer in her own right. Written again for Joachim they achieved considerable success. The King of Hanover was ecstatic and could ‘hardly wait’ to enjoy such ‘marvellous, heavenly pleasure again’; they are also often played on the oboe. They are certainly very pleasant especially here although I wouldn’t go as far as the king.
This entire recital is a splendid success. I could comment about the timing but it’s quality I’m looking for not a full CD. These two seem perfectly in tune and it is to be hoped that there is much more to come.
David R Dunsmore
A splendid set of Violin Sonatas from two of our finest young musicians.
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