Luigi Piovano & Antonio Pappano - Brahms & Martucci - All Music
In their way, the two Brahms cello sonatas are among his most complex works, although the Cello Sonata in F major, Op. 99, is also one of his sunniest. Throughout, in a dozen different ways, Brahms elegantly solves the problem of what to do when his melody instrument is mainly lower than his accompaniment one, and the two sonatas are fascinating essays in register and balance. Those aspects are well controlled here, partly because of the instruments used: pianist Antonio Pappano, a formidable song accompanist despite his better-known role as conductor (the two functions are not really entirely different), plays an 1878 Steinway instrument that is ideal for Brahms, and cellist Luigi Piovano's 1710 Gagliano instrument renders the composer's melodic lines warmly. Over and above the instruments played is the exceptional cooperation between the two players, familiar to each other from the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, where Pappano is the conductor, and Piovano is the principal cellist. A bonus is the pair of very Brahmsian Romances by Giuseppe Martucci, a late 19th century Italian who introduced Brahms and other primarily instrumental composers to the land of opera. Arcana's sound from a Sienese villa is also entirely idiomatic. This is a very strong entry in the catalog of Brahms chamber music releases.