For the Love of Brahms
Friendship is the theme of Joshua Bell’s latest album, For the Love of Brahms. Long-term friends Stephen Isserlis (cello) and Jeremy Denk (piano) join Bell to perform Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and the 1854 version of the Piano Trio in B Major, and the second movement of Schumann’s Violin Concerto with coda by Benjamin Britten.
As a young composer of nineteen, Brahms first encountered Robert and Clara Schumann. While he revered the older composer Robert Schumann, Brahms eventually became tortured by his love for Clara, and these conflicted feelings underpin the emotional turmoil of the first iteration of his piano trio. Denk begins the trio with a lively tempo, setting the pace for an emphatic and energetic recording. Bell’s playing is typically romantic, making full use of opportunities for rubato and glissandos, while Isserlis drives the final movement, marked Allegro molto agitato, with great impetus.
A different turmoil motivated Britten’s arrangement of the Schumann: Britten wrote it to be performed by Yehudi Menuhin in memory of horn-player Dennis Brain, a mutual friend who was killed in car accident in 1957. Bell gives an impassioned performance, befitting the solemnity of the music and the disc’s tribute to musical friendships.
Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.