6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2011
Janos Starker [born 1924] was one of the finest 'cellists of his generation, and had a wide repertoire ranging from Bach to Kodaly. The Brahms sonatas were among his most frequently recorded works, and there are five versions of the second and four of the first sonata.
His earliest recording of both was made with Abba Bogin for Period in 1951, issued in the UK by Nixa in 1954, reissued on LP by Everest in the US and Saga in the UK, and on various other labels. It was recently refurbished most beautifully by Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio, from whom it is obtainable as a download. This CD contains his second set, recorded in Paris in 1959 for Erato with Gyorgy Sebok, and now owned by Warner Classics.
A third set, also with Sebok, was made for Mercury in 1964; and what should have been a fourth was started at the Snape Maltings in 1968 with Julius Katchen for Decca. Sadly, only the second sonata was completed before Katchen's untimely death. Starker recorded both sonatas again with Rudolf Buchbinber for RCA in 1992 [currently out of print].
I have long owned the 1951 and 1959 versions on LP, and the Decca version of No. 2 with Katchen on LP and CD. It is hard to choose between them. In some ways the earliest version seems to me the most desirable, particularly in the recent Pristine restoration, which captures the sound of the cello so beautifully. I have not been able to find the Mercury and RCA sets for comparison, but anyone who wants both sonatas on an actual CD at a reasonable price will not be disappointed with this latest Warner re-issue, even though the balance between the instruments is not ideal, with the piano tending to dominate in the louder passages. Fans of Starker should certainly listen to the 1951 versions, where the instruments are better balanced. Most Brahms-lovers will already have the Decca, a ripely mature version of the second sonata, coupled with the three piano trios played by Starker, Katchen and Josef Suk - heavenly performances!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2010
I've known this music for years, and have never heard it so beautifully played. The artists are equally matched in their passionate energy,and reveal the very deep feelings inherent in the music.
The recording is up to conveying all this without any irritations or distractions.
After hearing other recordings of these sonatas, which can seem as if played on automatic pilot, these are a revelation.