Fischer Duo

J. Brahms

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There are many recordings of the Brahms cello sonatas by star musicians, and you might overlook this one by the Fischer Duo, the pair of cellist Norman Fischer, a professor at Rice University in Houston, and his wife, pianist Jeanne Kierman. That would be a mistake, for this is lovely Brahms in the classic vein, with deliberate tempos and intoxicatingly beautiful melodies from both players. The pair do seem to have the rapport built of long collaboration (they've been at it since 1971), and the Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38, especially, seems to unfold with admirable flow. Even better are the Two Songs for alto, viola, and piano, Op. 91, in a cello version dating back to Brahms' time. These were Brahms' only songs with a second accompanying instrument, and they might be called third-party love songs; they were written for the violinist (and violist) Joseph Joachim and his alto-vocalist wife. The performances by mezzo soprano Abigail Fisher are gorgeous, and all three players capture the uniquely intimate quality of these little songs. Even if you have other cello sonata versions in your collection, the Op. 91 readings are worth your money on their own. Even the sound engineering, from a Rice University concert hall, punches above its weight. Highly recommended.

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