- Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8
- Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23: II. Langsam (coda by Benjamin Britten)
- Concerto for violin, cello & orchestra in A minor ("Double"), Op. 102
Heartland American violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis have known each other for many years and have often performed together. This release, spearheaded by Bell in his post as music director of the venerable Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, is a bit unwieldy, but has moments that make it worth the time and money of Bell fans especially. The three works, loosely linked by the concept described in the title, have their background abundantly described by Isserlis in the booklet. The "Double Concerto for violin and cello in A minor, Op. 102," is conducted by Bell from the violin. There are moments that show his star quality, contrasting nicely with the detailed, concentrated approach of Isserlis, and the relatively small size of the Academy probably approximates the way Brahms imagined the work. There are smoother versions of this curiously restrained, deliberate work, however. In the slow movement of the Schumann "Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23," Isserlis takes an orchestral cello line as a solo for no very good reason. The album finishes strongly, however, with the original 1854 version of the "Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8," which Brahms reworked in 1889 but did not, as Isserlis points out, discard (and he discarded plenty of other music). It's a passionate, tumultuous work of Brahms' youth, and Isserlis and Bell come together with pianist Jeremy Denk to make the best possible case for it. Sample the "Scherzo" with its daring rhythmic shift to waltz, and hear Bell's way with the expressive violin parts of the outer movements, and you'll come to understand Brahms' ambivalent attitude toward this early work. The 1854 version of the work is less often recorded than the 1889 reworking, and a fine, stirring performance of it is reason enough to pay the admission price here.