Vadim Gluzman

Brahms: Violin Concerto & Sonata No. 1

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

There is no shortage of recordings of the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, but there is a niche for this one: it is a superb reading in the Russian tradition, with modern Super Audio sound from Sweden's BIS label. Vadim Gluzman, a Ukrainian-born Israeli, comes in right between Jascha Heifetz and David Oistrakh, capable of both sharp attacks and dreamy cantabile, with a surface sensuousness that perhaps masks a good deal of thought about the longer line. Surely the first movement of the Brahms concerto is exquisitely balanced among its parts. Sample starting a bit after eight minutes in, where the main thematic material returns and, if properly handled as it is here, gives you a mighty thrill as you realize the material is a lot more complex than you thought it was. The entire 22-plus minutes of the movement have a rare coherence, with the difficult Joseph Joachim cadenza at the end seeming not at all a dutiful display of technical chops, but an organic part of a highly varied landscape. Throughout, the little-known Luzern Symphony Orchestra of Switzerland under James Gaffigan shows admirable alertness to the twists and turns of Gluzman's interpretation. The inclusion of the Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78, with Angela Yoffe on piano, is desirable, not only because a concert in Brahms' day might easily have included both symphonic and chamber music, but because it allows the violinist to shift gears completely and display his mastery of an intimate, melodic idiom. The finale is an unusual choice: the Scherzo in C minor for violin and piano, WoO 2, is a part of the F-A-E Sonata, a collaborative work with Robert Schumann and Albert Dietrich, with each of the composers contributing a movement (Schumann wrote two). Gluzman catches the tremendous energy of the very young Brahms here (the work dates from 1853). Highly recommended throughout.

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