Home listening: Brahms, Schumann – and Henry Wood

Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien turn to Brahms. Plus, Schumann’s annus mirabilis with Simon Wallfisch and Edward Rushton

• With the chill of approaching autumn descending, it seems an appropriate time to listen to Brahms’s Violin Sonatas, imbued as they are with such wistful nostalgia, particularly No 1 in G major, Op 78. Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien have a new recording of all three sonatas out on Hyperion, their long-standing partnership having already produced a memorable Hyperion Mozart series.

The song-like nature of the first two Brahms sonatas is very much to the fore, Ibragimova playing with a miraculously sinuous vocal line, graceful, sonorous and at times heartbreakingly tender. Tiberghien is both poetic and magisterial, particularly in the first movement of the second sonata, Op 100, which requires a huge range of colour and dynamic contrast, all beautifully realised here.

Ibragimova and Tiberghien recognise the passionate role Clara Schumann played in Brahms’s life by closing with a Romance from her Op 22, written in 1853, shortly before her husband Robert’s final breakdown. When Schumann died in 1856, and Brahms and Clara were free to marry, Brahms walked away. No wonder his three sonatas, written years later, feel like one long hymn of regret.

• In 1840, the year Schumann married Clara, he poured out his joy in 130 songs, 16 of which were to become his Dichterliebe, Op 48, included in a new Resonus recording, Songs of Love and Death, from baritone Simon Wallfisch and pianist Edward Rushton. Wallfisch is at his best when he empties the vibrato from his voice, as in the softly gracious Stirb, Lieb’ und Freud! and Erstes Grün, two further songs from that incredible year. Rushton plays with faithful sensitivity.

• If you want to know more about Henry Wood, indefatigable founder of the Proms, catch up with Prom 56 on BBC Sounds, a 150th anniversary tribute to the great man. In the interval archive recording slot, his daughter talks about the vast number of works he introduced to British audiences, and we hear him rehearsing Mozart. Fascinating.

Contributor

Stephen Pritchard

The GuardianTramp

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