The Brahms Age: Violin Sonatas on Period Instruments / Kurganov, Finehouse

Regular price $20.99
Added to Cart! View cart or continue shopping.

The vision for this project was to build a cohesive and comprehensive collaboration between artists, craftsmen, historians and curators, each with a singular degree of knowledge and lifelong immersion in their respective fields. In grappling with endless array of subtleties and complexities of this Guarneri instrument and authentic raw gut strings, I find myself closer to reconciling the secrets of the past with faithfulness to my inevitably modern identity. For me, Brahms is vulnerability and the utmost unified expression, and the Sonatas in particular are tapestries woven of heart and mind. The equipment of the era mirrors these qualities metaphorically and physically, and the culture was such that evenness, projection, broadness of sound were not the highest values. One’s first attempt to play an authentic D-string from the era (which is quite thick) makes the point clearly. The insights gained from this endeavor, personally speaking, travel with me as I continue to play this life-affirming music in various contexts.

- Daniel Kurganov


I wager that violinist Daniel Kurganov and pianist Constantine Finehouse found collaborating on historic instruments in the three Brahms sonatas to be an illuminating experience on many levels. For example, the slightly musty and registrally differentiated sonorities emitting from the 1868 Streicher piano used in Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 blend comfortably with the 1706 Guarnerius model violin’s intimate, country fiddle-like patina. Swirls of arpeggios support rather than envelop sustained lines on the violin’s G and D strings in these two sonatas’ opening movements.


In Op. 78’s central slow movement, you’ll notice timbral distinctions between the piano’s bass lines, tenor counterpoints, and treble melodies that are less apparent on modern pianos. Perhaps these instruments’ characteristics enhance the ability of Kurganov and Finehouse to achieve alluring lightness and transparency, along with an uncommon equality of ensemble blend where nothing gets buried in the mix.


For the D minor sonata, Finehouse uses an 1886 Chickering grand, whose more uniform sonority and wider dynamic range suits the music’s fuller-bodied nature, especially in the tumultuous Presto finale. Here Kurganov and Finehouse display uncanny synchronicity in shaping Brahms’ cross-rhythmic phrases across the barlines, generating tension by way of the subtlest tempo adjustments. Kurganov employs vibrato judiciously, and on occasion sneaks in just a hint of upward portamento à la Kreisler or Elman when reiterating a motive.


The combination of historic instruments and fresh, communicative interpretations is bound to appeal to anyone who loves these works. As such, Kurganov and Finehouse more than hold their own in the company of our reference Brahms violin sonata cycles.


-- (10/10; Jed Distler)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: July 07, 2023

  • Catalog Number: HC22081

  • UPC: 881488220810

  • Label: Haenssler Classic

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms

  • Performer: Daniel Kurganov, Constantine Finehouse


  1. Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Daniel Kurganov (Violin), Constantine Finehouse (Piano)

  2. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Daniel Kurganov (Violin), Constantine Finehouse (Piano)

  3. Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Daniel Kurganov (Violin), Constantine Finehouse (Piano)