Search MusicWeb Here


selling Internationaly

aSymphonies 1 and 5 £9.00 post free

See also

Symphonies 2 and 3

Vision of Judgement £9 post free

Newest Releases

Symphonies 4&5 £9 post free

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


  • Menuhin lost tapes
  • Overtures SACD
  • Krommer Flute Quartets
  • Schubert Piano Trios 2CD
  • Menuhin lost tapes

Let me tell you

David Pia

Beethoven Rattle

Highly Impressive

Matthews Shostakovich
Sheer delight!

To live with

outstanding retrospective

A superb celebration

flair, insight, controversy

outstanding singing


Sheer bliss

best thing I’ve heard this year

this really exciting release


alternatively AmazonUK

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata for Viola and Piano No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120 (1894) [22:05]
Sonata for Viola and Piano No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 120 (1894) [19:52]
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, Op. 38 (1862-65) (Transcribed for viola by Emanuel Vardi) [26:17]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in G major, Op. 78 (1879) [27:19]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A major, Op. 100 (1886) [21:14]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108 (1888) [22:27]
Emanuel Vardi (viola), Nobu Wakabayashi (violin), Kathron Sturrock (piano)
rec. rec. St. Michael’s Church, Highgate, London, 21-23 August 1991 (CD1), 18-19 July 1991 (CD2)
PORTRAIT CLASSICS PCL2103 [68:55 + 71:43]

A qualified recommendation. Just don’t turn up the volume too high!

This two-disc set is a reissue of separate mid-price CDs on the IMP Classics label, originally released in the early ’nineties. Now they appear as a set and at budget price. They contain the complete Brahms violin and viola sonatas plus a transcription for viola of the first cello sonata.
Of the two discs, I prefer the violin sonatas for a number of reasons. First, I find the autumnal nature of Brahms’ Op. 120 better expressed by the original, clarinet versions that he composed for Richard Mühlfeld. Second, Emanuel Vardi’s performance, while more than just accurate, lacks something in the way of expressiveness and color. He recorded these sonatas very late in his career and that could be the reason. Nevertheless, they are certainly good accounts of these works — at least as far as the two viola sonatas are concerned — and Kathron Sturrock accompanies well. However, the Cello Sonata transcription loses much of the darkness of its character when played on the viola.
Nobu Wakabayashi and Sturrock, on the other hand, are generally very convincing in the violin sonatas — best of all in the D minor work. There is a nice balance between violin and piano, and Wakabayashi has a warm and rich tone. Though something bothers me here that I think has to do more with the recorded sound than the performances. Whenever the sound approaches forte, the violin’s tone becomes harsh, coarse-grained. This is especially noticeable on headphones, less so when listening through speakers. Yet it soon becomes wearing. Setting the volume lower helps, but I would prefer a more distant recording. This is also noticeable in the viola sonatas, but to a lesser degree.
There are many alternatives one could recommend for both the violin and the viola sonatas. For example, for the former Dumay/Pires (DG) are hard to beat, although I haven’t heard the new Znaider/Bronfman recording for RCA that has been getting rave reviews. For the viola sonatas, the recent Lawrence Power/Simon Crawford-Phillips has been highly praised. And there are many other favorites from the past. As I stated above, though, when I want to hear the Op. 120 sonatas I would rather hear the clarinet versions. For those the Fröst/Pöntinen duo on BIS is a real winner. Of course, all of these recommendations come at full price. For a budget issue, this Portrait Classics issue receives a qualified recommendation. Just don’t turn up the volume too high!
Leslie Wright


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Editor in Chief
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.