Brahms wrote three sonatas for violin and piano – G Major (Opus 78, 1878), A Major (opus 100, 1886), and D Minor (Opus 108, 1887). Like his canonical Violin Concerto (Opus 77, 1878), all were composed for his very close friend Joseph Joachim, the legendary and prodigious violinist of the 19th century. The Guardian online links to this brief, 2001 article on the sonatas, which it’s looking at through the lens of identifying the best recording of all three works. This morning I’ve listened to the referenced recording of the three works by Arthur Grumiaux on the violin and Gyorgy Sebk on piano – it’s a lovely rendition, though I’ve not heard them played by anyone else. The more I’m listening to Grumiaux the more I’m enjoying his style, especially his dynamics and emotional expression.
As I listened, I read up on Brahms via the Wikipedia article, and learned a great deal about the man, who was considered, even in his time, the greatest since Beethoven. He was a noted perfectionist, and that tendency added to the fact that, as I mentioned above, Brahms wrote his works for violin for Joachim, the best violinist in the world, might help explain why it took him until Opus 77 to create his first major work for violin. That’s pure speculation on the part of this newbie; maybe Brahms just didn’t like the violin all that much! He did write several ensemble pieces prior to that time inclusive of the violin.
I find the sonatas delightful. My favorite is the second, but the dark complexities of the third are also intriguing.
Thanks for reading.