The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Brahms: Violin Sonatas in G major op.78, A major op.100 & D minor op.108
Affecting and lyrical interpretations of Brahms
Tuesday, 01 February 2011
THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
Stefan Jackiw (violin) Max Levinson (piano)
Sony Classical 88697 63769 2
Sony has only recently issued the three Brahms sonatas played by Jack Liebeck (reviewed September 2010), but the young American violinist Stefan Jackiw hits such a high level of inspiration that I can understand the duplication. His obvious identification with the music is mesmeric from the start and although pianist Max Levinson is less imaginative in places, he is an excellent partner.
Jackiw, who confines his booklet note to his favourite G major Sonata, phrases with great inwardness, also showing that he commands the art of parlando bowing, so apposite in this work. The double-stopped passages in the Adagio are deeply affecting.
He taps into the vein of wistfulness in the A major Sonata and is prepared to play really quietly in the central movement, finding the right character for its two contrasting moods. He starts the D minor Sonata very lyrically but rises to the heroic moments in the outer movements – he and Levinson end the finale with tremendous verve. Jackiw sings the Adagio beautifully and evokes a nice mood in the third movement, expanding effortlessly into its more strenuous episode. Again his double-stops are special.
With a good dynamic range in both performances and recordings, this disc should be heard by all violin fanciers.
From the February 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.