Brothers In Brahms


Brahms Works For Cello And Piano, the new Telarc disc from cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Awadagin Pratt, stands in testimony to the deep and long-lasting friendship between two artists. The men met a quarter century ago, and spend considerable time making music together. From the sound of it, they know the depth and genesis each other's musical and emotional impulses, and have evolved a common language. When they play, each of their phrases breathes as if from one mind.

This wonderful CD, whose centerpiece is Brahms' two major cello sonatas, also includes the Sonatensatz (Brahms' scherzo drawn from the so-called F.A. E. Sonata, a gift to violinist Josef Joachim, to which Brahms, Schumann, and composer Albert Dietrich contributed), and transcriptions of seven songs. Each is a gem.

If I were allowed only two instrumental works of Brahms with which to spend the rest of my days, I would chose Bailey and Pratt's transcription of Brahms' song, "Lerchengesang" Op. 70, No. 2, and their heart-tugging rendition of the first movement of Brahms' first Sonata for Cello and Piano, the Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38. In these men's hands, both are precious jewels. The wistful poignancy of the "Lerchengesang" is so simple in its utterance that you might think it the product of a New Age composer. Bravo.