Music@Menlo: Live, Through Brahms, 1–7 (ArtistLed)
Live chamber recordings from David Finkel, Wu Han & Friends
Founded in 2003 by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han (the husband-and-wife team that also serve as co-directors of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center), the annual Music@Menlo festival has spawned a chamber-music institute and concert series that draw world-class educators and performers. The concert series has been captured on a series of multi-CD box sets that arrive just before the next round of festival dates on the striking Northern California campus setting.
This year, the ninth version of Music@Menlo: Live consists of seven discs spotlighting the chamber music of the music of Johannes Brahms complemented by the music of his most important influences, contemporaries, and artistic heirs.
The first disc—which runs the gamut from Mozart’s Violin Sonata in E minor, K. 304, to selected lieder by Robert Schumann to Brahms’ own Sextet in Bb major, Op. 18—underscores Schumann’s contention that Brahms’ chamber works are “veiled symphonies.” Other tracks range from Bach to Kreisler, Harbison to Wieniawski.
Featured string players include violinists Yehonatan Berick, Jorja Fleezanis, Ani Kavafian, Cho-Liang Lin, Elmar Oliveira, Philip Setzer, Arnaud Sussmann, and Ian Swenson; violinist and violist Yura Lee; and cellists Eric Kim, Laurence Lesser, and Paul Watkins.
Six-time Grammy-winning producer Da-Hong Seetoo, who works with the Emerson String Quartet, handled recording duties for the festival concerts.
As usual, Music@Menlo: Live is one of the most anticipated classical-music recordings of the year, and unfailingly one of the best.