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CD cover - Brahms BRAHMS Sonatas Op 120
No1 in F minor, No 2 in Eb major
Two songs Op 91

Paul Silverthorne - Viola
Julian Jacobson - Piano
Sarah Walker - Mezzo
Meridian Records CDE 84190
CD Review (UK)

There is no better version of these sonatas on CD... Paul Silverthorne plays both works with affection, drawing lovely sounds from the large 1620 Amati viola loaned to him by the Royal Academy of Music.

The Independent (UK)

Brahms' arrangement of his two Clarinet Sonatas for the viola might be thought mere substitutes, but not when played with the refinement and affection of Paul Silverthorne accompanied by Julian Jacobson on Meridian.

The Strad (UK)

The large number of CDs of Brahms' viola sonatas reflects the high standards of virtuosity today and the fact that the viola versions have outstripped the clarinet versions in popularity. Already in contention are excellent versions by Bashmet, Sparf and Caussé - but not one of these improves significantly on the magnificent new performances by Paul Silverthorne and Julian Jacobson. Silverthorne plays the big Royal Academy Amati from which he draws a tone which is pleasantly nasal but also capable of great variation...

Both are wonderfully uninhibited in the outer movements of the F minor sonata, and the Andante is beautifully sustained at quite a slow tempo. They bring a fine rhapsodic feel to the first movement of the E flat sonata, and their solution to the difficult central movement is to take the rhythm of the outer sections quite literally, then keep the chorale section moving quite briskly. The variations are beautifully played.

Classical Net Review

Silverthorne and his accompanist, Jacobson, give dark, richly passionate accounts,...there's blood in the playing, unlike the “just-there” one often gets with violists. The collaboration between soloist and accompanist is so well judged that it becomes a contest of equals... the partners play with an air of easy power.

The last movement (F minor sonata), where a fleet vitality breaks into outright exaltation, violist and pianist find the requisite lightness and dig deep into themselves for the high moments. Nothing gets trivialized or overblown.

(Eb sonata) Silverthorne achieves such a freshness in his phrasing, he sounds at times like he's making up the music on the spot. After another powerful scherzo comes the finale - one of those Brahms movements of wildflower charm, which nevertheless contains deeper, elusive strata as well, like the second movement of the violin concerto. Silverthorne and Jacobson hit the emotional bulls-eye here - all the charm and all the depths - a magnificent performance.

Sometimes you really do need a great performance. This one opened up the sonatas to me. Highly recommended.
Steve Schwartz