Vol. 2 of cellist Johannes Moser and pianist Paul Rivinius' project entitled Brahms and his Contemporaries again shows that new and interesting things can be done with the cornerstone compositions of the repertoire. This installment includes Brahms' First Cello Sonata along with the sonata of Richard Strauss and the Third Sonata of Heinrich von Herzogenberg. The juxtaposition is interesting both musically and historically. All of these composers had at least some interaction throughout their lifetimes, and the influence of Brahms can be heard in both the Strauss and Herzogenberg. Although the works of these latter two composers are respectable pieces and enjoyable to listen to, it's immediately obvious why Brahms' work finds its way to the stage more often. Strauss' sonata, composed extremely early in his career, has hints of the grand scope of his future compositions, but does not yet completely reflect the style most listeners might expect. Herzogenberg's sonata is much more simplistic than Brahms', and the interplay between the piano and cello is not as extensively developed. Moser and Rivinius do a marvelous job of letting the music speak for itself by not adding self-indulgent tempo changes, excessive rubato, or other changes not included in the score. Moser's sound is rich and even across the range of his instrument and intonation and technical features are spot-on. Not only an excellent choice as an introduction to the Brahms sonata, this disc is also ideally suited for anyone interested in what other composers were up to at the same point in history.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
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