Dvorak’s Romantic Pieces open to a brand of melodic effusion that every household would know if more violinists chose the set as regular repertory. The original was scored for two violins and viola, but the violin-and-piano version is equally effective. Akiko Suwanai plays them well, and both she and Boris Berezovsky are especially successful at sustaining the long-breathed Larghetto. Kreisler’s aromatic reworkings of four Dvorak Slavonic Dances (the first of the three actually combines the outer section of the Slavonic Dance, B83 No. 2 with the second subject of B147 No. 1) are wistfully dispatched, though the gemutlich element is rather lacking. I enjoyed Suwanai’s handling of Janacek’s quixotic Sonata rather more, and Berezovsky’sRead more contribution is very clearly articulated.
The best item by far is, in my view, Brahms’s comprehensive revision of his own E flat Clarinet/Viola Sonata which, while incorporating a good number of textual alterations, emerges as the sweetest of three options – though I miss the viola’s tonal girth in the Appassionata second movement. Suwanai’s handling of the piece is lissom and shapely, and Berezovsky offers her some strong-armed support. The concluding sequence of Brahms Hungarian Dances shows Joachim’s arrangements to be less interventionist than Kreisler’s Slavonic Dances (the harmonic ‘bed’ of Brahms’s originals is hardly altered) and the playing is both spirited and alert. You could hardly wish for a more varied programme. The sound is excellent and the interpretations, musically well thought-out, technically nimble and well groomed.
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