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. Vier ernste Gesange, Op 121 Alexander Baillie vc John Thwaites pf Somm Celeste (F) S0MMCD0158 (71' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Talk about spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar. Actually, don't: the art of balancing piano and strings on a chamber recording is no small challenge. But engineering standards today are generally so high that we expect, almost as a matter of course, to hear both instruments clearly balanced in a lucid and natural-sounding acoustic.

This disc, sadly, shows just how hard that is to achieve. The piano, remote and muffled, sounds like it's in a different room. The cello's lower strings boom out so aggressively that at times they all but drown the piano, and the general ambience (the venue is given as the Gert Hecher Klavier-Atelier in Vienna) is muddy and drab. It is hard to imagine, say, BIS or Hyperion releasing something that sounds like this. …

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