Silke Avenhaus / Antje Weithaas

Brahms: Works for Violin & Piano

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With the exception of the youthfully impetuous Scherzo, WoO 2, a movement of a sonata collaboratively written by Brahms, Albert Dietrich, and Robert Schumann, Brahms did not publish works for the violin and piano duo until rather late in his life. The First Sonata was presented to its unofficial dedicatee -- the ill son of Clara Schumann -- in 1879. After a hiatus of nearly a decade, Brahms again returned to the medium for his final two contributions to the violin and piano repertoire. Each of these works are masterworks of writing not only for the individual instruments, but also in the sense of completely organic, seamless chamber music. The performances given on this Avi album feature violinist Antje Weithaas and pianist Silke Avenhaus. Their playing is almost always ideally suited to the music at hand, with a very lovely, intimate sound quality that allows both musicians to play with rich, robust sound without the need to force it. Interplay between the duo reflects their deep commitment to obtain a mutual understanding of the score and communicate that to listeners. Technical aspects are strong, as well: precise intonation, clear articulation, well-integrated dynamics, and rubato. The one thing sometimes lacking in Weithaas' playing is variety in her right arm. Although she produces a magnificent legato sound, she seems to shy away from opportunities to diversify and give listeners an occasional marcato stroke or gritty off-the-string accent. Still, positive aspects of these performances far outweigh this occasional shortcoming. [Nota bene: the track titles for the first three movements of the Third Sonata are vastly incorrect. The correct markings are I. Allegro, II. Adagio, III. Un poco presto e con sentimento.]

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