“Isserlis here achieves a beauty, finesse and attack with the cello less evident from his playing 20 years ago: his technique is phenomenal, his bowing at once wildly abandoned and absolutely precise in terms of his musical intentions. He has the advantage of a brother-in-arms in Hough, who treats the score with the symphonic sweep it deserves.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2005 *****
“In 1984 Steven Isserlis made excellent recordings for Hyperion of the Brahms sonatas with Peter Evans; this time he's added some substantial extra items – the two Suk pieces, wonderfully played, are particularly welcome. The new recording is fuller in sound and more realistic; Stephen Hough's commanding playing of Brahms's 'big' piano parts could, one feels, overpower the cello but, thanks to his sensitivity, this never happens.
In the sonatas, the timings are in nearly every case slightly shorter, due not to any very different tempi but because the music now flows more easily, with less sense of effort. Some listeners may miss the intensity of Evans's involvement with the music but the new versions have a wonderful sense of line, and Hough's more detached approach comes with vivid characterisation – seen in the sinister colours of No 2's Allegro passionato, for example, or the limpid, elegant playing of No 1's Allegrettoquasi menuetto.
Only in one place, the finale of No 2, is there the feeling that Hough's fluency creates a problem: repeating the opening theme, he pushes on in a way that detracts from the sunny, contented atmosphere at the start. These are deeply considered, immensely satisfying accounts. Isserlis and Hough make a formidable team.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Sonically the instruments are equal partners, and musically that's deliciously the case as well, with Isserlis and Hough reacting to every nuance of the other's playing, finishing each others' musical sentences...The timbre of Isserlis's gut-strung cello is another plus” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 29th November 2005