In a Violin Channel interview, Tasmin Little named Brahms as her favorite composer. I think that affection is evident in this release. There’s an easy familiarity in these performances I find quite appealing.

The Violin Sonata No. 1 was developed from two earlier songs by Brahms. The lyrical nature of the material is at the forefront of Little’s performance. She lovingly draws out the melodic lines with warm, singing tones.

That singing quality is used to even greater effect in the Violin Sonata No. 2. Little plays with a delicate sweetness that charms the ear. Which is not to say these are superficial, pretty performances.

Quite the contrary. Tasmine Litte gets below the surface of these works. Her phrasing illuminates the fundamental structure of each movement, sometimes making connections between them.

The third sonata is the most technically challenging, but Tasmin Little (and Piers Lane) take it all in stride. There’s a cohesive vision informing the performances that keep the focus on the music, not the fireworks.

Tasmin Little and Piers Lane have worked together for years. Both are in complete agreement with their playing, making these truly pleasurable performances to listen to.

There are hundreds of Brahms violin sonata recordings. What makes this one stand out? Tasmin Little is performing the music of an old friend with an old friend. It’s a subtle difference that’s hard to describe — but easy to hear.

Johannes Brahms: The Three Violin Sonatas
Tasmin Little, violin; Piers Lane, piano
Chandos CHAN 10977