Jack Liebeck & Katya Apekisheva – Brahms’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano

0 of 5 stars

Sonatas for Violin and Piano:
No.1 in G, Op.78
No.2 in A, Op.100
No.3 in D minor, Op.108

Jack Liebeck (violin) & Katya Apekisheva (piano)

Recorded 27-29 December 2007 in Potton Hall, Suffolk

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: July 2010
CD No: SONY CLASSICAL 88697623842
Duration: 70 minutes



Issued in July 2010, it’s a bit surprising that these recordings have waited two-and-a-half years for release, for whilst not the last word on this music, all three performances have much to offer.

Jack Liebeck offers Brahms’s music generous tone and phrase, a warm invitation to listen to him come to grips with three masterpieces for his instrument; there is spontaneity, too, in readings (whether actual or finely disguised) that have the feel of ‘real’ performances rather than ones manufactured in the editing suite. It’s not all in Liebeck’s favour though, for tone in the violin’s highest register can be a little pinched, but his admiration and concern for the music comes through in every note that he plays – with love, always expressively, and poise – yet there are times when he doesn’t always seem as ‘inside’ this music as its intellect and soul demands.

There are many good things, though, although between 3’30” and 3’50” in the first movement of the G major Sonata, Liebeck’s pizzicatos are rather fragile and brittle. It’s here that Katya Apekisheva comes into her own – piano-playing of rare sensitivity and innateness; elsewhere she is sonorous and searching – fortunately, the excellent recorded sound gives equal prominence to both artists as well providing air around their instruments and truthful, non-inflated reproduction.

Katya ApekishevaIn the First Sonata, the opening movement’s reflection and gentle dance-like measures are beautifully rendered, so too its heart-stopping changes of key, Liebeck unforced yet communicative, Apekisheva eloquent in her introspection; both performers – who work as a productive team – appreciating that ‘less is more’. One would also cite the glorious Adagio of the D minor Sonata as being particularly noble, the work’s first movement emerging here, and not inappropriately for this composer, as somewhat ‘baroque’, and how well the ‘innocence’ of the A major work is captured.

The cover picture is of Jack Liebeck alone – ideally it should be of him and Katya Apekisheva together, for these works are sonatas for violin and piano (Sony opts for “violin sonatas”), and there are times when Apekisheva is the more engrossing and penetrating artist. Nevertheless, as a partnership she and Liebeck have much to offer in all ten movements (three for the first two sonatas, four for the D minor, the concentration of the latter very successfully suggested here), and can certainly receive a ringing endorsement for what they have thoughtfully given us. There is room for Brahms’s Scherzo from the composite ‘FAE’ Sonata, but this great trilogy of sonatas offers much nourishment.

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