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The remaining movements, (which do conveniently fit 78 sides), are another matter altogether. Here is a master craftsman at work. The lovely, honeyed cantabile of the andante is an interlude to be savoured, and the rollicking 'hunting' finale is magical: full of wit, humour and sheer virtuosity [listen -- track 7, 2:15-3:24]. I have rarely heard it better done. Of course, some allowance has to be made for the sound quality of eighty years ago, but the ear soon adjusts, and the solo instrument itself is splendidly caught.

Glazunov's Reverie was the original makeweight for the fourth side of the Mozart set. It is an endearing morceau de salon, played with tenderness and affection by Brain, accompanied on the piano by his wife, Marion.

Brahms' Horn Trio is heard here not in the well-known 1934 electrical recording, with Busch and Serkin, which has enjoyed wide circulation, but in an earlier recording made in 1926, with Spencer Dyke and York Bowen. Once the listener has overcome the barrier of surface noise, which is sometimes quite intrusive, a formidable performance emerges, with the three protagonists in complete empathy, whether in the reflective tenderness of the opening movement, the delightfully fleet-footed scherzo [listen -- track 10, 6:41-7:44] (who said Brahms was heavy-handed?) or the warm-hearted abandon of the finale. A most enjoyable and accomplished reading, well worth the battle with the sound quality.

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Copyright © 14 March 2004 David Thompson, Essex UK


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