Notes and Editorial Reviews
Like many of Brahms' works, the two cello sonatas were written in the footsteps of the works of Beethoven. Both are examples of equal partnership between the cello and piano much as in the Beethoven sonatas despite the traditional listing of the piano first on the score. While Brahms was certainly looking back, this is not to say his sonatas were without innovation. The first sonata, for example, contains only three movements, the Adagio having been cut by Brahms himself. The final movement, overlapping a fugal subject over a quasi-sonata-allegro form, has stirred intense debate as to its exact form among music theorists for decades. The first sonata, while technically not terribly demanding, is filled with musical sophistication. By
contrast, the second sonata is quite difficult technically and poses many challenges for balance between the two instruments. This Arte Nova reissue (originally from 1996) is quite a suitable choice as an introduction to these two great works. Cellist Emil Klein and pianist Wolfgang Manz produce pleasingly lyrical performances of both sonatas. Technical execution is also accurate and refined from both players. Neither sonata, however, offers anything beyond safe readings of the scores. Don't expect to be on the edge of your seat or to be ravaged by emotional intensity. Arte Nova's sound is generally good, although a bit too much reverb was applied to the cello.
-- Mike D. Brownell, AllMusic.com Read less
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