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CD Review

Johannes Brahms

Chamber Works for Viola

  • Sonata in F minor for Viola and Piano, Op. 120 #1
  • Trio in A minor for Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 114
  • Sonata in E Flat Major for Viola and Piano, Op. 120 #2
Lawrence Power, viola
Tim Hugh, cello
Simon Crawford-Phillips, piano
Hyperion CDA67584 65m DDD
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This is another marvelous CD from Hyperion bringing together the works Brahms composed for that Cinderella of instruments, the viola. Lawrence Power is one of the foremost violists of the day at the moment and he is superbly supported by cellist Tim Hugh and the discerning accompanist Simon Crawford-Phillips.

The two sonatas are romantic works full of that nostalgic longing for youth from a composer who was nearing the end of his days when they were composed. Power plays with a disarming simplicity yet he plumbs the deepest depths of expressive interpretation which reaches the core of Brahms' thoughts. The recorded sound is beautifully balanced with viola and piano merging as one.

The same could be said of the wonderful Trio in A minor which includes the contribution of Tim Hugh who brings a soulful panache to the cello part. Apart from the sheer towering achievement of the soloists, the disc is also highly recommended for Malcolm Macdonald's excellent notes which show his intense admiration of these great autumnal works by Brahms. This must now be the definitive disc for those who want Brahms' works for viola grouped together.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech