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Sonatas For Viola & Piano, Op. 120 / Two Songs, Op. 91


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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. "Sonata For Viola and Piano, Op. 120, No. 1 in F Minor"
  2. "Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 120 No. 2 in E-Flat Major"
  3. Zwei Gesänge für eine Altstimme mit Bratsche und Klavier Op. 91
  4. Allegro Appassionato
  5. Andante un poco adagio
  6. Allegretto grazioso
  7. Vivace
  8. Allegro amabile
  9. Allegro appassionato; sostenuto
  10. Andante con moto; allegro; più tranquillo
  11. Gestillte Sehnsucht
  12. Geistliches Wiegenlied

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best... period 18 Aug. 2007
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As usual, Bashmet delivers brilliant performances on this cd. I am a clarinetist, so I originally encountered these pieces in their clarinet form. I'm also learning viola, so it was natural for me to turn to Brahm's transcriptions also. For the most part, I've been disappointed by the viola versions I've heard. Particular in the first sonata (movements 1 and 4 especially), most violists just don't have the sound/projection to compete with the dense piano writing (or in the case of Kashkashian's recording, she does project, but the sound becomes overly bright and loses the beautiful, warm resonance that I love so much in Bashment's playing).

Bashmet soars on these pieces. I find the first movement of the first sonata to be somewhat awkward to phrase, but Bashmet's phrasing and sense of time are free and refreshing (this is true of all movements of both sonatas, but I notice it most in the first movement of sonata one because so many others play it stiffly). His playing is stellar through out. Particularly beautiful is the sostenuto section of the 2nd movement of the EbM sonata (no. 2).

While I'm much less familiar with the Two Songs, from my listenings they are beautiful and both Bashmet and the singer perform beautifully.

While I cannot say for sure (because I haven't heard every other recording of the Brahms Sonatas), I sincerely find it hard to believe that there could be a more expressive or beautiful recording of these masterpieces. Enjoy!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bashmet's super-sensitive phrasing could use a little brashness 1 Jun. 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Yuri Bashmet is a phenomenal musician and a superstar in his native Russia, despite the fact that his chosen instrument is the mild, rather doleful viola. Brahms's two late clarinet sonatas, transcribed for viola, are a staple of the repertoire. Among the versions I've heard, Bashmet's stands out for the beatuy of his tone--he never sounds creaky or buzzy--and the ultra-sensitive phrasing he applies everywhere.

My reservation is that hearing sensitive viola playing gets a bit tiresome in this music, which is already among Brahms's most introverted, if not outright melancholy. I wish Bashmet had punched it up a bit. He needed an equal partner at the piano rather than the reticent, though highly musical Mikhail Muntian. Every mezzo and alto of repute has recorded Brahms's two songs with viola Op. 91, in luscious lullabye mode, and here the version with Bashmet and Larissa Diadkova is as beautiful as any.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars remarkable 26 April 2007
By D. Jack Elliot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I didn't find these performances to be at all reticent or less than assertive, as did the other reviewer here. While I did not listen to this album in direct comparison to any other readings of this repertoire, I found that Bashmet and Muntian delivered the full range of weight, color, and expression here, from the muscularity and resonant weight called for in Brahm's richer, fully scored passages, to delicate, beautifully phrased pianissimmi in others. I encourage anyone considering these readings of the viola sonatas to give them a listen (or three).

I own thousands of classical CDs and this one is probably in my top 50. I've been trying all day to think of words adequate for it, but all I can say is that this is just about as good as music gets---as sophisticated and profound, as skillfully wrought, as intelligently conceived. Don't miss it.
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