This is one of those rewarding recordings that makes you totally reassess music from the mainstream repertoire. Robin Michael’s gut-strung cello is softly sonorous, a perfect match for Daniel Tong’s masterly pianism on an 1897 Blüthner – said to have been played and chosen by Brahms on a visit to the Leipzig piano builder in the last year of the composer’s life. Modern instruments can give these works a hard, sometimes metallic edge. Here, we perhaps come closer to what Brahms and Schumann intended. The playing is virtuosic but the sound world is subtly shaded, almost restrained, and recreates the atmosphere of an intimate recital in a tasteful 19th-century drawing room. Recommended.
Brahms, Schumann: Works for Cello & Piano CD review – subtle period virtuosity
Robin Michael (cello), Daniel Tong (piano)
Stephen Pritchard has written on classical music for most of his 45 years in journalism. He was the Observer's first readers' editor, and prior to that was a managing editor and production editor