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Brahms, Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas, Etc / Senofsky, Graffman

Release Date: 05/28/2002 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9118   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsSergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Berl SenofskyGary Graffman
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although the timing of its release coincided with the recent death of Berl Senofsky, this commendable recital disc nevertheless stands on its own as an important document of a terrific musical partnership that lasted until the mid-1970s. The first and only American-born winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Senofsky embarked on a short-lived career as a soloist after spending a number of years as assistant concertmaster in the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. Despite glowing reviews of his concerts and some (long-lost) RCA recordings, Senofksy settled into a career as a teacher at the Peabody Conservatory and thus joined the ranks of great musicians who could have been contenders. The only other available recordings Read more of Senofsky's playing include a pair of well-regarded discs from Cembal d'amour and selections from previous Queen Elisabeth contests, where his performance of the Debussy Sonata is immortalized.

This closely-recorded recital from the Library of Congress in March 1975 represents Senofsky and pianist Gary Graffman's last public appearance together and juxtaposes the pair's sensitively phrased reading of Brahms' contemplative A major Sonata with the jagged fierceness of Prokofiev's F minor piece. Noteworthy are Senofsky's carefully graded dynamics, forceful accents, and masterful sense of line in the gentle phrases of the Brahms first movement. Graffman matches his partner's grace in the piano's lyrical passages, holding back just slightly to let the music breathe appropriately.

The Prokofiev provides a jarring counterweight, and here again Graffman is beguiling as he dramatically unfolds the deep impression of mystery and despair in the bass line. Senofsky's coloristic abilities are on display, especially in the quick, hushed (freddo) scale section in the opening Andante assai. The twosome also effectively manifests the raw vulgarity of the Allegro brusco. While Graffman and Senofsky don't really plumb the grisly depths of this work in the same way as Richter and its dedicatee Oistrakh do--check out their identical recital from a live 1972 Salzburg performance on Orfeo--their longstanding credentials in Prokofiev's music render their presentation as no less idiomatic or satisfying. The disc concludes with an exuberant encore of Brahms' Sonatensatz fragment. Bridge's fortuitous memorial to Senofsky eases some of the regret that this talented but lesser-known violinist did not make more recordings.
--Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 100 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Berl Senofsky (Violin), Gary Graffman (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/14/1975 
Venue:  Live  Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 
Length: 22 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 80 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Berl Senofsky (Violin), Gary Graffman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1946; USSR 
Date of Recording: 03/14/1975 
Venue:  Live  Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 
Length: 29 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Scherzo for Violin and Piano in C minor, WoO 2 "FAE Sonata" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Berl Senofsky (Violin), Gary Graffman (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/14/1975 
Venue:  Live  Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 
Length: 5 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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