Johannes Moser / Paul Rivinius

Brahms and His Contemporaries, Vol. 1

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It is no longer enough for cellists to record Brahms' two canonical sonatas; now they must record other works that fall into the sonatas' orbit. Some cellists include a transcription of the G major Violin Sonata, some include a transcription of one or both clarinet/viola sonatas, and some include works by Brahms' contemporaries. That is the path chosen by the young German cello and piano team of Johannes Moser and Paul Rivinius: in this first volume of Brahms and his Contemporaries, they have programmed the master's Sonata in F major, Op. 99, along with Robert Fuchs' Sonata in E flat minor, Op. 83, and the world-premiere recording of Alexander von Zemlinsky's Sonata in A minor. The program works wonderfully. Moser has a strong but sensitive tone while Rivinius has a big sound but a fine sense of balance, and together they make a compelling case for Brahms' big-hearted sonata and convincing cases for his contemporaries' sonatas. Fuchs' work is well-composed, but a bit by-the-numbers, and memorably melodic, but a tad sentimental; Zemlinsky's work is less well-composed but very direct, very expressive, and very, very emotional. Hänssler Classics' digital sound is a trifle distant, but still clear and quite warm. Listeners who love Brahms, who like Fuchs, or who admire Zemlinsky should check out this disc.

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