Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Cello Sonatas-No 1

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Cello Sonatas-No 1

Article excerpt

Brahms

Cello Sonatas--No 1, Op 38; No 2, Op 99

Marie-Elisabeth Hecker vc Martin Helmchen pf Alpha (F) ALPHA223 (53' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

When Brahms played through his First Cello Sonata with its dedicatee, Josef Gansbacher, the cellist apparently complained that he couldn't hear himself over the piano. 'Lucky you,' muttered Brahms. There's no such problem on this new disc from Marie-Elisabeth Hecker and Martin Helmchen. As Hecker calmly, eloquently shapes her low-lying opening melody, Helmchen's off-beat piano chords don't so much drive the rhythm as hang from her line--helped by a recording that places the cello ever so slightly forward.

That's no bad thing. Brahms may have followed Beethoven's cue in describing these pieces as sonatas for piano and cello, rather than the other way around, but there's no question that balance can be an issue. Not here; both instruments come through clear and unforced, enabling Hecker to take the lead in shaping a performance of the First Sonata that's essentially lyrical and poetic. …

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