of all the genres in classical music that i've waded out into, it was the sonata for violin and piano that took the most getting used to. the two instruments seemed always to be in need of some timbral mediation; and actually, i still get uncomfortable at times trying to reconcile their two voices into cohesive ideas. i know it's ridiculous. as though voice and guitar, for example, are any different in this respect. and double-actually, it was this thought of guitar and voice that bade me to reconsider my stance on the violin sonata. and, well, that's pretty much the end of that story: i listen to violin sonatas kinda like wordless songs. and once i get that ball rolling (mentally bullshitting myself, i mean), it's easy enough to appreciate the work as being more of one mind. and brahms' violin sonatas, each one a thing of exquisitely lyrical beauty, make it even easier. the gently lilting line of violin and the subsequent unfolding of chords on the piano which open the first of these give the impression of forbearance on the threshold of great things. and indeed, throughout these pieces brahms employs but a modicum of theatricality, though at no cost to the scope of his expression. again, the composer seems to access the phenomenal by way of an unsuspecting alliance with the everyday — he's a poet like that! ashkenazy and perlman play together very well (only once or twice giving my "one mind" foolishness any cause for slipping back into awareness of itself) and the production provides their warm interpretation with a nice warm stage. hear.