Isaac Stern

Schubert: Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 99; Brahms: String Quintet No. 2, Op. 111; Bach: Partita No. 1, BWV 1002

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Isaac Stern's influence will linger with violinists for many years, and his recorded legacy will endure as Sony finds new ways to repackage his extraordinary body of work. This Masterworks Expanded Edition consists of analog and digital recordings made between 1964 and 1996; except for the bonus track, this 2004 reissue corresponds to the second disc in the 2002 set, "In Tribute and Celebration." Schubert's Piano Trio in B flat major, which Stern performs brilliantly with cellist Leonard Rose and pianist Eugene Istomin, is the oldest recording here, but it is more enjoyable than it was on LP because the sound has been substantially improved through careful remastering. Brahms' String Quintet No. 2 in G major fares less well in the remixing. Stern, violinist Cho-Liang Lin, violists Michael Tree and Jaime Laredo, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are passionate and vigorous, but hot sound levels make the recording a bit too forward and abrasive. The Sarabande and Double from Bach's Partita No. 1 in B minor is a fine example of Stern's expressive solo playing, but all too brief as a filler piece. Mozart's Rondo in C major, K. 373, rounds out the album, and Stern leads the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra in a buoyant performance with natural sound.

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