One of the most happily balanced chamber music discs I have auditioned in some time, this partnership between Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough, provides some thoroughly idiomatic Brahms sonatas, played with alternate tenderness and fury, as each piece requires. Hough’s piano part proves as ravishing as Isserlis’ commanding cello; and in a medium in which competition abounds–from Rostropovich/Serkin to Du Pre/Barenboim to Fournier/Backhaus and beyond–that is saying something. The Adagio affetuoso of the F Major Sonata may warrant your attentions at repeated hearings.
The two Dvorak pieces, Silent Woods and Forest Peace, have long been established as cello staples of intense, lyrical beauty. The new additions by Suk (1890-1896) each have a charm and graceful lilt thoroughly consonant with the bucolic beauties invoked by his father-in-law. Recorded 2-4 May 2005 under the supervision of Ben Connellan, this disc, while not specifically designated SACD, packs a resonance and liquid punch competitive with the finest sound imaging. Ravishing playing from the first notes, these collaborations testify to a meeting of kindred spirits on all levels. The liner notes by Isserlis capture the tenor of the pieces with a propriety bordering on veneration.