Violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis are joined by two acclaimed musical forces - pianist Jeremy Denk and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which Bell is Music Director – in a landmark joint recording, For the Love of Brahms (Sony Classical). Available September 30, 2016, the new album is a unique project that features works of Brahms and Schumann that Bell calls “music about love and friendship.” Bell, Isserlis and Denk unite here in Brahms’s first published chamber work, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 in its rarely performed original 1854 version. Isserlis also joins Bell – as violin soloist and director – and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Brahms’s last orchestral work, the celebrated Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102. Bell, Isserlis and members of the Academy also offer the first recording of an unusual coupling: the slow movement of Schumann’s rarely heard Violin Concerto, in a version for string orchestra made by Benjamin Britten, who also added a short coda.
Mensa Sonora means ‘Harmonious Table’ and was music composed for aristocratic dining. The diners present during this Tafelmusik would have missed much had they allowed knives and forks to drown the melodies, rhythms and harmonies which Biber produced. These are by and large upbeat pieces, but not in any way superficial or slight. One is struck particularly by the high degree of virtuosity – but to a purpose. The violins in particular carry forward the momentum, linger on the tender and underpin the subtle and perhaps less obvious. […]
The Purcell Quartet has the gift of producing a particularly unified sound. The beauty of each member’s tone is not lost and is there to be enjoyed, as in the first movement of the Sonata in A major. Yet the unison effect achieved by musicians so well in tune with one another adds to the pleasing and compelling texture of these unpretentious yet delightful pieces. (Mark Sealey, musicweb-international.com, 2008)