Brahms Cello Sonatas in fresh new performances

Two young artists deliver Brahms of freshness and enthusiasm

Brahms Cello Sonatas in fresh new performances

On this newly-released disc, two massively talented young artists present their take on the two Brahms Cello Sonatas - and requisition one of the Violin Sonatas, to boot!.

Both cellist Daniel Müller-Schott and pianist Francesco Piemontesi have been making waves over the past few years. I met Piemontesi once for an interview in a break from rehearsals with the London Symphony Orchestra (he was performing Bartók with them) around his recording of Liszt Années de pélèrinage Book I, a release of  remarkable intelligence (there's also with a splendidly imaginative DVD from the respected film-maker Bruno Monsaingeon). Cellist Daniel Müller-Schott's recordings have been gathering praise from every quarter; to have two talented young artists bringing such a sense of youthful enthusiasm  to Brahms is bracing, to say the least. One can feel that enthusiasm, along with a sense of the connection enjoyed by Müller-Schott and Piemontesi, in this four-minute YouTube video around the recording :

The two Brahms Cello Sonatas are mainstays of the cello repertoire; the Op. 78 G Major Sonata is central to the violin repertoire (the cello version is in D major). The two Cello Sonatas present different sides of Brahms, the first, written in 1862-5, has an invigorating energy characteristic of earlier Brahms; the second, composed in 1886, has more of the serenity and wisdom of his later music. The slow movement of the Second is particularly beautiful. In absentia Müller-Schott/Piemontesi, let's treat ourselves to Rostropovich, ever-generous in expression, and Rudolf Serkin in that  Adagio affettuoso:

The so-called Op. 78 Violin Sonata is occasionally labelled "Regenlied", after  a Brahms Song from the Op. 59 set. Here's the great Fischer-Dieskau, with Jörg Demus, in just that song:

Hearing the Sonata on cello works well, particularly given the piece's function on this disc as a breath of fresh air between the E minor of the first Cello Sonata and the impassioned F major of the second. It begins with an expansive, heavenly melody on the solo instrument that could only be by Brahms. Here it is in the original violin, and in the spirit of young artists, let's go with Lisa Batiashvili and Milana Chernyavskaya on Warner:

And in the absence of a clip of Müller-Schott and Piemontesi, here's Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax in the cello version:

Müller-Schott and Piemontesi give us a disc to cherish. Looking forwards, late August brings a release of Piemontesi in Mozart: the Concertos Nos. 19 and 27, plus the Rondo for piano and orchestra in A, K 386, out on Linn Records.