"Maxim Rysanov’s viola playing is a delight. But to bulk out this collection of Brahms’s music for the viola to two well-filled discs requires the inclusion of two works better known in other instrumental guises. With the best will in the world, it’s hard to imagine that Brahms really considered the viola to be an adequate substitute for the horn in his Op 40 Trio. Superb though Rysanov’s contribution is, it can never compensate for the lack of brass timbre. In the Op 78 Violin Sonata, the transposition is marginally more convincing. But it’s only when you hear the late works for which Brahms genuinely specified the viola - the two sonatas of Op 120 and the Trio with cello and piano Op 114 (even though, in the scores, the viola has to share all them with the clarinet) - that you can hear Rysanov at his most persuasive, and delight in his musicianship for its own sake."
The Guardian - 29 November 2008
"Brahms gave the meagre viola repertoire a huge boost with his arrangements of his late clarinet sonatas and trio. All three works acquired a more veiled cast in the process. But while the viola is less attuned to the cussed side of the trio, its plangent timbre enhances the reflective, twilit moods of the sonatas.
The other arrangements here are more problematic. The G major Violin Sonata becomes a much more sombre affair transposed down to D major for viola. Inevitably, too, the viola is an uncomfortable substitute for the horn in the Op 40 Trio, above all in the rollicking "hunting" finale.
That said, Maxim Rysanov, in close communion with his colleagues, quells misgivings with his lustrous, burnt-sienna tones and Brahmsian generosity of feeling.
On occasion the players can overdo the dreamy or rueful lingerings. But these are performances of great beauty and expressive subtlety, recommended especially to those who like the music’s autumnal regret underlined."
Daily Telegraph - 24 October 2008
"Two wonderful young viola players currently grace the British musical scene: Lawrence Power and the Ukraine-born, London-based Rysanov, whose tone and musicianship are captivating here. Like any serious violist, he quite reasonably lays claim to a full corpus of Brahms’s music, including the two late sonatas usually assigned to the clarinet, the E flat horn trio and the marvellous A minor clarinet trio. On top of that, he has commandeered the G major violin sonata in his own edition of Paul Klengel’s transcription (the other arrangements being Brahms’s). It all makes for a double album of sustained intensity, haunting mellifluousness and acute pleasure."
Sunday Times - 16 November 2008
"But for the first Violin Sonata, all the arrangements on this superlative double-disc are Brahms’s own.
Clarinettists may protest, but the F minor and E flat Sonatas have special intimacy here, while the dialogue in the E flat Trio for horn/viola, violin and piano is intensified. Rysanov’s tone is magnetic, from its sparkling top to its burnished bass. Violinist Boris Brovtsyn, pianists Katya Apekisheva and Jacob Katsnelson and cellist Kristine Blaumane are equally impressive."
Indeoendent On Sunday - 16 November 2008
"Brahms for viola played at a very, very high level—one of the best of the year!" *****
Audiophile Edition USA - 23 December 2008
- "Outstanding" -
"Let me say right away I adored these discs...Rysanov is a superb player, with quite the silkiest, most seductive tone I’ve heard in a long time..."
International Record Review - January 2009
- Editor’s Choice -
Gramophone - January 2009
- Best of the Year 2008 -
Audiophile Edition USA
- Recording of the Month -
MuiscWebInternational - February 2009
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