Brahms' Beauty Brought to Life

Arabella Steinbacher and Robert Kulek perform Brahms witha rare delicacy of touch.

Composer: Brahms

Repertoire: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3; Sonatensatz
Artist: Arabella Steinbacher, Robert Kulek
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chamber

Label: Pentatone PTc5186367

The Music: Brahms’s three violin sonatas are cherishable masterworks of the chamber repertoire, the First radiantly melodious, the Second autumnal and reflective, while the Third lurches dramatically from intense sadness to outbursts of searing intensity.

The Performances: Luxuriously engineered – the sense of ‘being there’ is further enhanced when the SACD surround-sound track is activated – Arabella Steinbacher and Robert Kulek approach these timeless scores with a velvet-gloved tenderness and affection that dispels any sense of Brahms being an ‘intellectual’ composer. Steinbacher produces a sensuous sound of beguiling purity that sends Brahms’s rich cantabile lines soaring aloft and receives wonderfully sympathetic support from Kulek, who follows her every phrase and gesture with the greatest sensitivity. 

The Verdict: They may lack the rapt concentration of Suk/Katchen (Decca, 452 3412) and Chung/Frankl (EMI, 556 2032), but in terms of sheer beauty of sound Steinbacher and Kulek have no rivals. 

Want More? Steinbacher radiates bonhomie and brilliance in Dvořák’s loveable concerto (Pentatone, PTC 5186 353).