The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Affecting and lyrical interpretations of Brahms
Musicians: Stefan Jackiw (violin) Max Levinson (piano)
Composer: Brahms

Sony has only recently issued the three Brahms sonatas played by Jack Liebeck (reviewed September 2010), but the young American violinist Stefan Jackiw hits such a high level of inspiration that I can understand the duplication. His obvious identification with the music is mesmeric from the start and although pianist Max Levinson is less imaginative in places, he is an excellent partner.

Jackiw, who confines his booklet note to his favourite G major Sonata, phrases with great inwardness, also showing that he commands the art of parlando bowing, so apposite in this work. The double-stopped passages in the Adagio are deeply affecting.

He taps into the vein of wistfulness in the A major Sonata and is prepared to play really quietly in the central movement, finding the right character for its two contrasting moods. He starts the D minor Sonata very lyrically but rises to the heroic moments in the outer movements – he and Levinson end the finale with tremendous verve. Jackiw sings the Adagio beautifully and evokes a nice mood in the third movement, expanding effortlessly into its more strenuous episode. Again his double-stops are special.

With a good dynamic range in both performances and recordings, this disc should be heard by all violin fanciers.