Brahms: Violin Concerto, Violin Sonata No. 1 - Gluzman / Yoffe / Gaffigan
Classical - Orchestral
Brahms: Violin Concerto, Violin Sonata No. 1, Scherzo to F.A.E. Sonata
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
Angela Yoffe (piano)
James Gaffigan (conductor)
One of Johannes Brahms’s sunniest works, the Violin Concerto in D major was conceived during the summer of 1878, which Brahms spent by the idyllic Wörthersee in Kärnten, Austria. By the end of the summer he was able to send the violin part of the first movement, and the beginning of the Finale to his friend Joseph Joachim. Brahms asked Joachim for advice regarding the writing for violin, and also told him that he was planning a work in four movements. By the time Joachim gave the first performance of the work, on New Year’s Day 1879, the two had discussed the work in depth, Brahms had replaced the two projected inner movements with the glowing Adagio, and Joachim had composed a first version of his own cadenza, which still is the one most often performed.
Vadim Gluzman, who on BIS has previously released Romantic war-horses such as the concertos by Tchaikovsky and Bruch to critical acclaim, now takes on Brahms with the support of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester under James Gaffigan. He combines it with the composer’s Violin Sonata No. 1, written more or less in tandem with the concerto, performing it with his wife and recital partner Angela Yoffe.
Recorded in November 2015 at the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern, Switzerland (Concerto); July 2015 at the Sendesaal Bremen, Germany (Sonata, Scherzo)
Produced by Martin Nagorni (Arcantus Musikproduktion)
Sound engineers: Thore Brinkman (Take5 Music Production) (Concerto); Martin Nagorni (Sonata, Scherzo)
Review by John Broggio - May 21, 2017
A most welcome addition to a field surprisingly sparse, considering the widespread esteem in which this concerto is justly held.
Among modern accounts, we have recently been gifted Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1, Violin Concerto - Ax / Zimmermann / Haitink and of older provenance we have Brahms: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto - Fischer / Müller-Schott / Kreizberg, Mendelssohn, Brahms: Violin Concertos - Hilary Hahn and a frustrating Brahms: Violin Concerto, Hungarian Dances - Swensen. A short summary might be that Gluzman enjoys the best of all the above versions.
As the exposition of the concerto clearly demonstrates, the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester are a fine orchestra, smaller in number than either of their Dutch counterparts, which grants a natural re-balancing of textures in favour of more woodwind colour than Kreizberg elicits from the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Needless to say, their tone is not alike that of the Concertgebouw; it is no less engaging musically and James Gaffigan should be congratulated for the dialogue that they engage with between themselves and Vadim Gluzman. If one were to characterise the differences between Julia Fischer, then if they were taking a seminar, then Fischer would be utterly precise & emotional in a quite didactic manner; Gluzman would be no less emotional but would engage on a more human level that sounds more spontaneous than fiercely rehearsed. That is true through the great embellishment of the orchestral lines in the first movement, there is a sense of unforced rapt beauty in the slow movement that is sustained long into the break between movements. The finale is a natural outpouring of joy from orchestra and soloist alike; it would be easy to imagine a blossoming of smiles in the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum, Luzern.
To follow such a sunny conclusion with an equally fresh work in the Violin Sonata No. 1 is a very opportune choice with Angela Yoffe taking over as "muse". Just as in the preceding concerto, Gluzman is fully aware of the "long line" as well as the many "local" nuances. He leaves nothing wanting for forward impetus either, even when deploying a rubato that sounds wonderfully spontaneous; Yoffe is to be acclaimed for her contribution for the piano is no mere cipher to Gluzman's violin. Both take delight in taking the melody, shading the countermelody, adding colour to the accompaniment and pointing those cross-rhythms in which Brahms (and the listener) delights. As Brahms applies hemiola's and pays homage to that master of "moving bar lines", Haydn, we hear Gluzman & Yoffe manage to simultaneously subvert the sense of pulse while making it sound completely sure-footed. A vigorous account of the F.A.E. scherzo rounds off the disc in glorious fashion - this is playing that demands, actually no, politely insists on being heard and is constantly persuasive.
The sound from Luzern (concerto) & Berlin (sonata, scherzo) is consistently beautiful; the orchestral timbres are glowing with autumnal richness yet delightfully clear thanks to the brilliant acoustic and engineering. The piano timbre is similarly well presented and for both scales, the marrying of Gluzman's violin with his "accompaniment" could not be improved upon.
Throughout - and this is always a hallmark of wonderful musicianship - it sounds freshly minted and convinces one in the moment that it could (should) not be played any other way. Bravo!
Copyright © 2017 John Broggio and HRAudio.net
The download on which this review is based was provided by eClassical.