Well known to readers of The Strad for his regular column on the technique of violin playing, Simon Fischer has been performing the Brahms sonata cycle in concert for over 25 years, though it is his fresh and youthful approach that characterises this highly attractive new release.
Comparing these performances with other versions of the sonatas reveals what a wide range of tempos they engender. The Fischers generally occupy a place among the more expansive accounts, though in the slow movements they don’t fall into the common trap of stagnation. My only reservation is the lack of joy in the brief Vivace section of the second movement of op.108. They mostly eschew the performing traditions that have introduced unmarked changes of pulse, and are mindful of the multitude of small dynamic nuances. Simon Fischer’s immaculate bowing shapes lyric passages with much affection.
Raymond Fischer’s piano playing is excellent, perfectly weighting the passages of dialogue, while Simon Fischer’s relatively sparing use of vibrato on lower strings avoids those glutinous moments in central movements that disfigure other performances.
This uncommonly well-filled disc has an agreeably judged balance, with clean, open sound.