The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Guy Braunstein (violin) Alban Gerhardt (cello) Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Marek Janowski (conductor)
Composer: Brahms, Schumann

Boldly depicted from the outset, this interpretation of the Brahms ‘Double’ Concerto has a gravitas and rhythmic incisiveness that adds currency to the already charged and passionate music. Both soloists are faultless in faithfully adhering to the all-important rhythmic difference between semiquavers ( ) [Ariane: do we do this in reviews or not? ie give note value. Can’t remember what we decided. MDS]and triplets, the oscillation of which propels the music forward in the opening section. Alongside this the two players really develop the sense of sparring dialogue, yielding a palpable tension in this taut conversation. Yet they could be even more explosive in the entries following the rests where the music invites a full-voltage approach.

In the Andante both soloists are wonderfully expressive, with Guy Braunstein’s silvery tones being particularly sumptuous and eloquent. However, the slower and more deliberate tempo they adopt for the finale is not as successful – the articulation tends to sound overcautious. Here a lighter bowing stroke could have offered a welcome sense of relief following the intensity of the preceding movements.

Occasionally the otherwise impressive ensemble in this live recording sounds more strained in the fast passagework. But there are compensations: Marek Janowski and the orchestral partnership offer harmonically well-pointed phrasing and a weighty Brahmsian style. Moreover, the full-bodied recording suits the compelling reading of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony, which concludes the programme.    

Joanne Talbot