World-class musicians - violinist David Abel and pianist Julie Steinberg - perform Debussy, Brahms and Bartok's Sonatas For Violin And Piano under the pristine production guidance of David Wilson. The musical instruments used in this recording are of superb quality, complementing the talents of the artists, and enhancing the color and expressiveness of the literature. The perspective of this recording is close...as though the artists are creating the music in your listening room. The overall tonal balance of this recording reflects the recording site (Mills College Concert Hall), the instruments and the recording approach, being slightly warm and never strident.
This is actually Brahm's second violin and piano sonata (1879), the first written when he had just turned 16, having disappeared and then been recovered; it was finally destroyed by the composer as not worthy. The work has been termed Regen-Sonate (Rain Sonata) because it uses material from two songs, Op. 59, written to the poetry of Claus Groth, evoking the sad past. The raindrop material is present in each movement, especially the third.
This sonata shows the composer at his most original, still experimenting with form near the end of his life. Debussy writes that the first movement shows "curious evolving, giving the impression of an idea turning around on itself, like a snake biting its tail." The work is remarkable, as the composer points out, in its joyousness and impetuosness, reflecting nothing of the depression and illness that Debussy was feeling at the time of its writing.
Bartok's Rumanian collection numbered more than 800 cylinders and over 4,000 songs at the time he wrote these dances. It is amazing to think of the perseverance it must have taken for him to manage collecting trips on the outer rim of the Austro-Hungarian empire in the midst of World War I.
"David Abel, violin. Julie Steinberg, piano. Perhaps the most transcendent of David Wilson's brilliant recordings, this remarkable album of solo violin accompanied by piano comes as close to putting the two performers in the listening room as any ever made." - The Absolute Sound
Debussy / Brahms / Bartok, composer
David Wilson, producer
David Abel, violin
Julie Steinberg, piano