Contemplative Brahms from a Brazilian master

Antonio Meneses: Brahms

The Strad Issue: September 2022

Description; Contemplative Brahms from a Brazilian master

Musicians: Antonio Meneses (cello) Gérard Wyss (piano)

Works: Brahms: Cello Sonatas: no.1 in E minor, no.2 in F major; Seven Songs (arr. Slater and Geringas)

Catalogue number: AVIE AV2493

In this account, the first dozen or so bars of Brahms’s First Cello Sonata, amiable and introspective, could almost be a lullaby. Meneses, with his rich, brown, woody sound remains unhurried, expansive and always lyrical, even as the drama hots up, but he is suitably thrilling at the climax. The second-movement Allegretto remains easy-going and good-natured, with a languid trio. The fugue that opens the finale comes almost as a shock, full of energy and purpose, with the balance between contrapuntal voices finely done.

The jubilant, heroic opening of the Second Sonata is balanced by gentle musing; the short passage between the mysterious bariolage and the return of the opening is beautifully graded. The long opening of the Adagio affettuoso is played as if sung in one breath, its contours subtly sculpted and imbued with a kind of resigned anguish. The central F major section of the Allegro passionato is another plaintive song, as is the opening of the finale – and here, as so often, there is a steadiness to the playing, refined, expressive and full of easy charm. Between the sonatas comes a selection of song arrangements, mostly at the slow, contemplative end of the spectrum, all played with tender loving care. The recorded sound is warm and spacious.