Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas Nos. 1–3
Anthony Marwood (vn); Aleksandar Madžar (pn)
WIGMORE HALL LIVE 0050 (68:13)
A two-month respite from new releases of Brahms’s violin sonatas ended with the arrival of this version from Anthony Marwood and Aleksandar Madžar in live performances from London’s Wigmore Hall in September 2010 and January and May 2011.
Of the half-dozen recent recordings that have piled on in the last few months, most were found wanting, or worse. Only one by a
relative newcomer, violinist Stefan Jackiw with pianist Max Levinson (see
34:4), made such an overwhelming impression on me that it found a place on my 2011 Want List.
This new version from Marwood, best known perhaps as a veteran of the Florestan Trio, goes directly to the top of my list, right alongside Jackiw’s. It’s really quite beautifully done. Marwood spins out a tone of silken smoothness, suave and cultivated but never sounding glib or affected. His vibrato is well controlled and his
application of portamentos at just the right time and place illustrates the expressive potential of the technique when applied sparingly and judiciously.
Serbian pianist Madžar, an artist I’d not previously encountered, partners Marwood with exceptional responsiveness to the violinist’s every nuance of phrasing, but also with an independence of part-playing that makes clear why these sonatas, for a long time, were designated “for piano and violin,” rather than the other way around. The perfect balance of the two instruments in this recording really illuminates Brahms’s close counterpointing between the voices.
These are live performances, but the audiences on these three occasions are absolutely undetectable until their enthusiastic and well-deserved applause is included at the end of each sonata.
This one is definitely a keeper; I’ve already made room for it on my shelf right next to the Jackiw/Levinson and two or three of my other favorites. Very, very strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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