account
basket
Challenge Records Int. logo
The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin
Johannes Brahms

Johannes Leertouwer | Julian Reynolds

The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin

Price: € 20.95
Format: SACD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917296426
Catnr: CC 72964
Release date: 04 August 2023
Buy
1 SACD
✓ in stock
€ 20.95
Buy
 
Label
Challenge Classics
UPC
0608917296426
Catalogue number
CC 72964
Release date
04 August 2023

"The reading of the three Sonatas (...) offered to us in this album by the pianist Julian Reynolds and the violinist Johannes Leertouwer (...) is convincing in every respect: interpretative, stylistic, expressive. With measured dynamic balance and tonal clarity."

Classic Voice, 01-3-2024
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
Press
EN
DE

About the album

We made this recording in January 2023, one week before I defended my dissertation on historically informed performance practice of Brahms’s orchestral music at Leiden University and received my doctorate. The research had offered me the opportunity to re-investigate my ideas about contemporary performance style, particularly of 18th- and 19th-century repertoire. Over the course of the 4-year project, I had rehearsed, performed, and recorded the Brahms symphonies and concertos as a conductor. After so much reading, writing, and conducting, I found that I longed for the experience of applying what I had discovered as a violinist to find how it had changed my approach to Brahms’s chamber music. I called Julian Reynolds and asked if he would be willing to experiment with my findings. We had studied the Brahms violin sonatas together with Josef Suk in Vienna and Prague many years ago. We found a beautiful Blüthner grand piano of 1857 in the atelier of Andriessen pianos in Haarlem.

Our recording represents our desire to find the freedom to apply the 19th-century expressive tools of flexibility of rhythm and tempo, of expressive legato, portamento and vibrato that have been largely forgotten or perhaps discarded over the course of last century. These tools cannot simply be dusted off and re-implemented. As I argued in my dissertation, working with them requires re-inventing them. Portamento for example was a hotly debated subject throughout the 19th century. There is no single model or example of how to apply it today. The same can be said about vibrato. What we can say with certainty is that in the violin methods of Louis Spohr and later Joseph Joachim and Andreas Moser, portamento was named as the first and most important means of expression for string players, and vibrato was described as an ornament. When it comes to flexibility of tempo, we can be sure that the 19th-century concept of tempo was more flexible, and that modifications of tempo were much more frequent than in more modern times. We know that Brahms had a particularly free and flexible way of performing his own music. Brahms himself famously refused to give metronome markings, writing that he could not find a meaningful relationship between his flesh and blood and such a mechanical instrument, a feeling perhaps inherited from Beethoven. He also wrote that any “sane musician” would take a different tempo every week.
Wir haben diese Aufnahme im Januar 2023 gemacht, eine Woche bevor ich meine Dissertation über die historische Aufführungspraxis von Brahms' Orchestermusik an der Universität Leiden verteidigte und meinen Doktortitel erhielt. Die Forschungsarbeit bot mir die Gelegenheit, meine Vorstellungen über den zeitgenössischen Aufführungsstil, insbesondere von Repertoire des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts, neu zu untersuchen. Im Laufe des vierjährigen Projekts hatte ich die Brahms-Sinfonien und -Konzerte als Dirigent geprobt, aufgeführt und aufgenommen. Nach so viel Lesen, Schreiben und Dirigieren sehnte ich mich nach der Erfahrung, das, was ich als Geiger entdeckt hatte, anzuwenden, um herauszufinden, wie es meine Herangehensweise an Brahms' Kammermusik verändert hatte. Ich rief Julian Reynolds an und fragte ihn, ob er bereit wäre, mit meinen Erkenntnissen zu experimentieren. Wir hatten die Violinsonaten von Brahms vor vielen Jahren zusammen mit Josef Suk in Wien und Prag studiert. Im Atelier der Andriessen Klaviere in Haarlem fanden wir einen wunderschönen Blüthner Flügel von 1857.

Unsere Aufnahme steht für unseren Wunsch, die Freiheit zu finden, die Ausdrucksmittel des 19. Jahrhunderts - Flexibilität von Rhythmus und Tempo, ausdrucksstarkes Legato, Portamento und Vibrato - anzuwenden, die im Laufe des letzten Jahrhunderts weitgehend in Vergessenheit geraten oder vielleicht sogar weggeworfen worden sind. Diese Instrumente können nicht einfach entstaubt und neu implementiert werden. Wie ich in meiner Dissertation dargelegt habe, muss man sie neu erfinden, um mit ihnen zu arbeiten. Das Portamento zum Beispiel war im 19. Jahrhundert ein heiß diskutiertes Thema. Es gibt kein einziges Modell oder Beispiel dafür, wie man es heute anwendet. Das Gleiche kann man über das Vibrato sagen. Was wir mit Sicherheit sagen können, ist, dass in den Violinmethoden von Louis Spohr und später Joseph Joachim und Andreas Moser das Portamento als erstes und wichtigstes Ausdrucksmittel für Streicher genannt und das Vibrato als Verzierung bezeichnet wurde. Was die Flexibilität des Tempos anbelangt, so können wir sicher sein, dass der Tempobegriff des 19. Jahrhunderts flexibler war und dass Tempomodifikationen viel häufiger vorkamen als in moderneren Zeiten. Wir wissen, dass Brahms eine besonders freie und flexible Art der Aufführung seiner eigenen Musik hatte. Brahms selbst weigerte sich bekanntlich, Metronomangaben zu machen, da er keine sinnvolle Beziehung zwischen seinem Fleisch und Blut und einem solchen mechanischen Instrument finden konnte - ein Gefühl, das er vielleicht von Beethoven geerbt hatte. Er schrieb auch, dass jeder "vernünftige Musiker" jede Woche ein anderes Tempo nehmen würde.

Artist(s)

Johannes Leertouwer (violin)

Johannes Leertouwer is chief conductor and artistic director of the recently formed Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht. In September of 2009, he conducted this orchestra in an exciting and much praised debut which featured a program of Stravinsky and Ravel and he will continue to lead the NPU in a series of concerts and special projects in the coming years. The orchestra performs on period instruments as well as repertoire of the nineteenth- and early twentieth century. It also features an extensive educational program, and therefore clearly carries the signature of its chief conductor. Johannes Leertouwer studied conducting with David Porcelijn and the legendary Finnish professor Jorma Panula, He has worked as guest conductor with various orchestras, such as the Noord Nederlands Orkest, choir...
more
Johannes Leertouwer is chief conductor and artistic director of the recently formed Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht.
In September of 2009, he conducted this orchestra in an exciting and much praised debut which featured a program of Stravinsky and Ravel and he will continue to lead the NPU in a series of concerts and special projects in the coming years. The orchestra performs on period instruments as well as repertoire of the nineteenth- and early twentieth century. It also features an extensive educational program, and therefore clearly carries the signature of its chief conductor.
Johannes Leertouwer studied conducting with David Porcelijn and the legendary Finnish professor Jorma Panula, He has worked as guest conductor with various orchestras, such as the Noord Nederlands Orkest, choir and orchestra of the Netherlands Bach Society. He has also worked with orchestras in Belgium, France, Japan and Mexico. From 1989 to 2006 he was artistic director and conductor of the Netherlands Youth String Orchestra, and also conducted various projects at European conservatories in Paris, Antwerp, Leipzig and Amsterdam.
After studying violin with Bouw Lemkes in Amsterdam and Josef Suk in Vienna and Prague, Johannes Leertouwer decided to specialize in historical performance practice. He worked as concertmaster and soloist with a number of international period instrument ensembles and orchestras, such as Anima Eterna, and the orchestra and choir of the Nederlandse Bach Vereniging.
Together with his duo partners Menno van Delft (harpsichord) and Julian Reynolds (fortepiano) he has made a series of CD recordings on the Globe label which feature works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. With the Schönbrunn Ensemble, of which he has been a member since its founding in 1987, he performs both in the Netherlands and abroad. He has also made a series of CD’s with this ensemble, the most recent of which contains works of Graf, Reicha and Ries. In 2006, the Mozart year, Johannes Leertouwer was the soloist and conductor in a highly acclaimed CD-recording of the complete works for violin and orchestra by Mozart (Challenge).
Since 1989 he has been a professor of violin at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He gives masterclasses and guest teaches in many countries both within and outside of Europe. As a conductor he is able to draw not only on his years of experience with the ensembles and orchestras that are leading the way in historical performance practice, but also on his experience in Romantic and twentieth-century orchestral practice. Already during his violin studies he worked with world famous conductors such as Haitink, Abbado, Bernstein and Harnoncourt.
Johannes Leertouwer is a conductor with a broad repertoire and an exceptionally acute consciousness of style. From his specialization, the Viennese Classics, he has built up his repertoire without limiting himself to any particular style period. Among the works he has conducted are Sibelius’ Symphony No.5, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; he has also conducted world premieres of works by Patricio Wang, Maurice Horsthuis, Frank Agsteribbe and others.

less

Composer(s)

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer is such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the 'Three Bs' of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.   Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, and voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become...
more
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer is such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.
Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, and voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.
Brahms has been considered, by his contemporaries and by later writers, as both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Classical masters. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers. Within his meticulous structures is embedded, however, a highly romantic nature.

less

Press

The reading of the three Sonatas (...) offered to us in this album by the pianist Julian Reynolds and the violinist Johannes Leertouwer (...) is convincing in every respect: interpretative, stylistic, expressive. With measured dynamic balance and tonal clarity.
Classic Voice, 01-3-2024

..the close duo Leertouwer-Reynolds takes matters very different from their direct competitors. The Blüthner grand piano from 1857 sounds sonorous and Reynolds can handle it very well.
De Gelderlander, 28-2-2024

The efforts of Leertouwer and his accomplice Julius Reynolds focus less on the beauty and flavor of timbres than on a radical reconsideration of the use of legato, portamento, vibrato (often absent or extremely economical) and - more decisive - rubato. When we know the cordial detestation that Brahms had of the metronome and rigid tempos, we can only applaud this flexibility, this audacity in the changes of pace.
Diapason, 01-2-2024

I will simply say, the performances are lovely and most engaging. They have now become my preferred versions to sit back and enjoy hearing. And the wonderful sound quality delivered by Bert van der Wolf in this recording certainly takes these performances to another exalted level. For those of us who value excellence in sound reproduction, the sound quality is enough to make this a preferred album in our music libraries. When combined with the excellence of the performances, this album is a clear winner all around.
Positive Feedback, 28-1-2024

Reynolds get top billing - these are sonatas for piano and violin, after all - and he phrases throughout with great sensitivity. In his recording with Julius Katchen (Decca, 1/68), Suk uses portamento with such discretion that you hardly notice it. I find that preferable; but Reynolds and Leertouwer, beautifully recorded, are well worth hearing.
Gramophone, 01-10-2023

The biggest differences with modern, inauthentic renditions are in the details, partly thanks to the sound of the grand piano used from 1857. Some details sound more transparent and the balance between the instruments is more equal in several places.
Luister, 01-9-2023

And that is also the beauty of and the fascinating thing about the violin sonatas as performed by Leertouwer and Reynolds: you can immediately taste that not every note has been carefully weighed and varnished in advance. Inspiration can flow freely. The tone of the musical conversation is not fixed, but develops here and now. It makes listening an adventure, in the best sense of the word.
NRC, 18-8-2023

...true to his research, Leertouwer plays the Sonatas differently, giving them an unexpected, lovingly slant. In his reading, applying abundant portamento, I got a feeling as though I was listening to musical love letters.  I recommend that those interested listen for themselves. If I’m totally off the mark, you may well appreciate the way Leertouwer and his duo partner, Julian Reynolds, at the 1857 Blüthner grand piano perform so professionally and enthusiastically their fashion of these Sonatas whilst, maybe, conveying at the same time a glimpse of Brahms’s mindset. It does not replace any of my favourites. Still, I value it highly for what it is: An incomparable and well-researched view into the origin of these war horses of our classical repertoire.  
HRAudio, 24-7-2023

Play album Play album

You might also like..

Early String Quartets
Narratio Quartet
Rossini Mezzo
Scenes and Arias
Silvia Tro Santafé
Various composers
Spanish Heroines
Silvia Tro Santafé
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Complete Works For Violin & Orchestra
Johannes Leertouwer
Serenades
Schoenbrunn Ensemble
Opera 4 Hands
Julian Reynolds / Peter Lockwood
Opera 4 Hands Vol 2
Julian Reynolds / Peter Lockwood
Felix Mendelssohn
The Piano Trios
Reynolds/leertouwer/hood, De
Fernando Obradors, Enrique Granados
A Spanish song recital
Silvia Tro Santafé / Julian Reynolds
Ludwig van Beethoven
The Complete Works for Pianoforte and Violin Vol 1
Johannes Leertouwer / Julian Reynolds