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Brahms, Schubert, Ferguson, Beethoven: Sonatas / Isaac Stern, Myra Hess

Brahms / Schubert / Beethoven / Stern / Hess
Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1458  
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenHoward FergusonFranz SchubertJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Isaac SternMyra Hess
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Review Quotes:

"We have here a restored recital from Usher Hall, Edinburgh 28 August 1960, in which Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965) collaborates with violinist Isaac Stern 1920-2001), the two musicians having met and worked together prior at the Casals Festival, Perpignan in the 1950s. Their work in the 1886 “Thun” Sonata of Brahms sets the tone for amiable and leisurely tempos, a sunny disposition aided by rather more exact intonation from Stern than could be his wont in this period...The Schubert Sonata (aka Sonatina) in D benefits from the mutual sympathy these performances exert on behalf of the composer...The 1946 Sonata No. 2 by Irish composer Harold Ferguson (1908-1999) proffers an idiomatic work in post-Romantic style,
Read more reminiscent of Richard Strauss cross-fertilized by Bloch and Frank Martin. Tonal but occasionally rasping and angularly modal, the first movement achieves some aggressive, dervish-like momentum, the keyboard rather free-wheeling. The coda rather stuns us with its brilliant intensity. The lovely Adagio enjoys a mysterious elusive aura...A true sense of valediction asserts itself as the movement reaches its inevitable conclusion, and the audience bids a fond farewell to a duo who had often touched artistic heights." - Audiophile Audition


Both in his memoirs and in conversation with the present writer, Stern named Myra Hess among the musicians who had influenced him. The two met in the summer of 1951 at the Casals Festival in Perpignan but it was not love at first sight, on Hess's side at any rate. When their record company American Columbia, which largely underwrote the Casals Festival, suggested that Hess should record some chamber music at the 1952 event in Prades, she was grateful for the chance to renew collaboration with her old friend Szigeti but was not too keen to work with Stern. Once she started rehearsing Brahms's B major trio with him and Casals, however, she realised how much she had in common with Stern. The trio was recorded and Hess also played and recorded the Schumann Quintet with Stern, Alexander Schneider, Milton Thomas and Paul Tortelier, as well as three works involving Szigeti: Schubert's A major Sonata, Brahms's C major Trio (with Casals) and C minor Piano Quartet (with Milton Katims and Tortelier). These Prades encounters eventually led to the Hess-Stern duo which mainly appeared in New York, Edinburgh (at the Festival) and London. They initially played Brahms's G major Sonata at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on 16 April 1956 in honour of the ninetieth birthday of David Mannes, founder of the Mannes College of Music: Stern began the recital with the Bach Chaconne and Hess ended it with Beethoven's A flat Piano Sonata, Op.110. Thereafter they gave sporadic sonata recitals, the repertoire taking in all three by Brahms, as well as two by Bach, a few Beethovens and individual works by Mozart and Schubert. Although the duo was not recorded commercially, we do have this BBC transcription of what turned out to be their last recital, on 28 August 1960 at the fourteenth Edinburgh International Festival (a London appearance scheduled for that October had to be cancelled, owing to the heart attack which hastened the end of Hess's career). To hear two such great romantic artists together is something of a privilege. Tully Potter, 2011
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 96 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Isaac Stern (Violin), Myra Hess (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2, Op. 10 by Howard Ferguson
Performer:  Isaac Stern (Violin), Myra Hess (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946 
Sonatina for Violin and Piano in D major, D 384/Op. 137 no 1 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Isaac Stern (Violin), Myra Hess (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 100 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Isaac Stern (Violin), Myra Hess (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Austria 

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