Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Sun, 14 Jul 2024 19:45:41 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Bruch, Brahms - Violin Concertos (Sarah Chang) [2009] Bruch, Brahms - Violin Concertos (Sarah Chang) [2009]

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Max Bruch Violin: Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op. 26
1. Vorspiel (Allegro Moderato)	7:56	
2. Adagio	7:44
3. Finale (Allegro Energico)	7:16
Johannes Brahsm: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77
4. I: Allegro Non Troppo	22:13	
5. II: Adagio		8:29
6. III: Allegro Giocoso, Ma Non Troppo Vivace - Poco Più Presto 8:20

Sarah Chang - violin
Dresdner Philharmonie
Kurt Masur – conductor


Sarah Chang records two of the most popular concertos of the violin repertoire, accompanied by the exceptional team of Kurt Masur and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. Sarah describes the Bruch as one of her favorite concertos. It was one of the first she played, and presented it at her Juilliard audition at the tender age of five. Sarah Chang is recognized as one of today's most captivating and gifted artists, possessed of astonishing musical insight, technical virtuosity, and emotional range. She has recorded exclusively for EMI Classics from the beginning of her career, and has produced a discography that includes the violin concertos of Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvoøák, Paganini No.1, Prokofiev No.1, Shostakovich No.1; Goldmark, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and Vieuxtemps No.5; as well as Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Lalo's Symphonie espagnole; Saint-Saëns's Havanaise, Introduction, and Rondo Capriccioso; and chamber music by Dvoøák, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Ravel, and Saint-Saëns. "A flawless delivery, deep musical intelligence, and barely-contained expressive exuberance." (The Irish Times, Feb 2, 2009 on Sarah Chang's performance of the Brahms violin concerto). ---Editorial Reviews


Looking at the familiar pair of works included on EMI Classics' Bruch, Brahms: Violin Concertos, one might ask, "Haven't we had these concertos from Sarah Chang before?" Actually, we haven't, though the Max Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor is a key part of her personal history. It was through her ability in this work that led to Chang's discovery at the tender age of 4; why she hasn't recorded it before is something of a mystery. Nevertheless, on this disc Chang records it for the first time, along with her first recording of the formidable Brahms Violin Concerto in D, with the Dresdner Philharmonie under the direction of the conductor whom Chang calls "my musical godfather," Kurt Masur. The disc is in an "Opendisc" format and comes with a bonus CD-ROM track.

That's the good news; the not so good news is that this effort is lacking overall in soul and spirit; while one can detect Chang's long experience with the Bruch -- she plays it with absolute perfection of tone and technique -- she doesn't play it with much warmth and feeling, and Masur's band merely floats along behind her, trying not to get in Chang's way. However, Masur and company do get involved in the first two movements of the Brahms, which are sluggish and tepid; Masur's tired tempo drags the soloist right along with it. The third movement, however, brighten things up all around, and these last eight-and-a-half minutes of music are easily the most pleasurable on the album, although it's hard to say whether the listener will make it that far. The inner photo is so airbrushed it appears out of a deep freeze; appropriate, as "cold" would be a good way to describe this performance, certainly not a desirable attribute when you're dealing with warm-blooded romantic literature, as is the case here. ---Uncle Dave Lewis, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Fri, 18 Jan 2013 17:20:38 +0000
Max Bruch - Die Loreley (2018) Max Bruch - Die Loreley (2018)

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Disk 1 
1.Einleitung (1. Akt)
2.Nr. 1 Rezitativ und Arie
3.Nr. 2 Lied
4.Nr. 3 Rezitativ und Duett
5.Nr. 4 Ave Maria!
6.Nr. 5 Ensemble
7.Nr. 6 Rezitativ
8.Nr. 7 Lied der Winzerinnen
9.Nr. 8 Szene - Marsch, Chor und Ensemble
10.Nr. 9 Große Szene (2. Akt)

Disk 2
1.Nr. 10 Chor und Duett (3. Akt)
2.Nr. 11 Rezitativ
3.Nr. 12 Lied
4.Nr. 13 Rezitativ und Ensemble
5.Nr. 14 Gesang der Loreley
6.Nr. 15 Ensemble
7.Nr. 16 Rezitativ und Kavatine
8.Nr. 17 Rezitativ
9.Nr. 18 Finale

Disk 3
1.Nr. 19 Chor (4. Akt)
2.Nr. 20 Rezitativ
3.Nr. 21 Lied mit Chor
4.Nr. 22 Rezitativ (Hubert)
5.Nr. 23 Szene mit Chor
6.Nr. 24 Finale 

Michaela Kaune, Soprano	- LENORE, Tochter des Fährmanns Hubert 
Magdalena Hinterdobler, Soprano	- BERTHA, Gräfin von Stahleck und Nichte des Erzbischofs
Danae Kontora, Soprano 	- WINZERIN 
Thomas Mohr, Tenor	- PFALZGRAF OTTO
Benedikt Eder, Baritonw	- LEUPOLD, sein Seneschall 
Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Bassbaritone 	- REINALD, ein Minnesänger
Thomas Hamberger, Bassbaritone 	- Der ERZBISCHOF von Mainz
Sebastian Campione, Bass	- HUBERT, Fährmann und Schenkwirt

Prague Philharmonic Choir
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Stefan Blunier - conductor


The Loreley is one of the most famous figures of the romantic era, and even today the massive rock in the Rhine is notorious for threatening the river’s skippers with shipwreck. The legendary female figure with her seductive beauty today no longer haunts the river, but her story continues to resonate in the imagination. In 1861, when he was a mere twenty years old, Max Bruch, a Rhinelander born in Cologne, devoted an opera to the Loreley, a work based on a libretto by the great Emanuel Geibel himself. This opera in four acts is only rarely performed and until now has never been recorded on CD. The Munich Radio Orchestra will now change this state of affairs: in a concert performance initiated by cpo the orchestra presented the work under the conductor Stefan Blunier, who was the General Music Director of the City of Bonn – that is, in the vicinity of the Loreley – when the recording was produced. The marvelous Michaela Kaune interpreted the title role in a top-quality performance, and Thomas Mohr was her male counterpart. Bruch set the Loreley story, in which everything, both in ambience and action, constituting a »Grand Romantic Opera« (thus the work’s subtitle) is present, in a highly romantic musical language. It is not without reason that Hans Pfitzner lent his support to this forgotten gem throughout his life.


Emanuel Geibel’s libretto to Die Loreley is based on an invented saga dating from 1800 which claims a huge rock in the Rhine near Sankt Goarshausen – the site of many a nautical accident – as a physical embodiment of an enchanting female who threw herself into the river having been spurned. Her spirit remains in and around the rock, a perfectly rational explanation for the mysterious echoes that are still heard at the site by passing seamen.

Geibel’s text was intended for Mendelssohn, but ended up in the hands of that composer’s acolyte Max Bruch, who was in his early twenties when he wrote it (1860 63). We know Bruch was staunchly opposed to Wagner’s new language and its ‘deceptive cadences’. Sure, you can deride Wagner and worship Mendelssohn. But if you can’t conjure up any semblance of the magic that either composer was capable of then you have a theatrical and dramaturgical problem – certainly in a story as fantastical and melodramatic as this.

To a point Die Loreley is stodgy, formulaic and awkward, but it gets better as it proceeds. There is some character development in the titular Lenore’s graduation from lyricism to dramatic desperation to eventual transcendence but musical characterisation is shallow elsewhere. As the booklet notes point out, the libretto offers moments of dark romanticism that could have delivered scenes reminiscent of Robert le diable or Der Freischütz. Instead, the Grand Scene with Spirits resembles hand-shunted flat scenery in musical form (this is where Bruch might have benefited from one of those ‘deceptive cadences’). The multiple Vintner’s Choruses are foursquare, even if the Prague Philharmonic Choir do a better job at hiding their lack of enthusiasm than the Munich Radio Orchestra sometimes do elsewhere.

Yet there’s some fire in the piece and some beautiful singing on this rendition of it. Blunier handles the angry exchanges at the end of Act 3 with clarity and punch and then milks the final scene – the tenor Otto’s suicide into the Rhine following Lenore’s return-spurning of him – for all the transcendence Bruch tried to convey without recourse to Wagnerian sleight of hand. Michaela Kaune plots Lenore’s journey well but can be a little squeaky at the top of her register. Thomas Mohr’s Otto is eagerly sung in a well supported tenor. There is lovely depth and true control from Magdalena Hinterdobler’s Bertha – the aristocrat fiancé Otto is never really into – sung with soul and intimacy even at high volume. Jan-Hendrik Rootering is unsteady as Reinald despite the oak-cask timbre of his voice. Ultimately, none can paper over what’s missing in the music. There are scores by this composer that deserve more regular airings, but ‘Bruch and the Art of the Theatre’ is a thesis that will surely never be written. ---Andrew Mellor,

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:29:55 +0000
Max Bruch - Odysseus (Oratorio) Max Bruch - Odysseus (Oratorio)

1. Orchestral Introduction
2. Odysseus On Calypso's Island
3. Odysseus In The Underworld
4. Odysseus And The Sirens
5. The Tempest At Sea
6. Penelope's Lament
7. Nausicaa
8. The Banquet With The Phaiakes

1. Penelope Weaving A Garment
2. The Return
3. Pause
4. Feast In Ithica
5. Final Chorus

Penelope - Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo-soprano)
Odysseus  - Wolfgang Schone (baritone)
Nausicaa - Anja Vincken (soprano)
Franziska Hirzel (soprano)
Martina Borst (mezzo-soprano)
Claudia Rohrbach (soprano)
Reuben Wilcox (baritone)

Tschechischer Chor Prag
Orchester der Beethoven-Halle Bonn
Marc Soustrout - conductor

Beethovenfest Bonn sept. 22, 2001
Radio Broadcast


Bruch’s life-time fame rested mainly on choral works, among them Odysseus written in 1871. These were turbulent days of German unification to which the composer proudly ascribed and this work strongly emphasises love for the homeland. His careful selection from the saga leaves much to the listener’s imagination, while the chorus alternates as participants and narrators. The conventional structures of oratorio disappear with innovative choral recitatives and a cohesive shape emerges from the blurring of formal boundaries. Odysseus was hugely popular (Brahms a noted fan) and it brought Bruch to Liverpool for three years. It dropped from the repertoire this century (I revived it in 1988) but it deserves far better, for Odysseus abounds in sumptuous melody, strikingly beautiful sections and powerfully dramatic moments. --- Christopher Fifield,


After the famous G-Minor Violin Concerto, Odysseus was Bruch's most successful work. Wagnerian expectations need to be set aside. Free from the prejudices of early modernist criticism, we can encounter in this work a richness of musical invention, a powerful sense of drama, and a moving late-romantic evocation of the traditions of Handel and Mendelssohn. It is one of the many works in the overlooked genre of secular choral music of the late nineteenth century that demands a rehearing.

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Sun, 28 Jul 2013 15:31:42 +0000
Max Bruch - The 3 Symphonies-Swedish Dances (2008) Max Bruch - The 3 Symphonies-Swedish Dances (2008)

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Disc 1
1 	Symphony No. 1: 1. Allegro maestoso		10:19
2 	Symphony No. 1: 2. Scherzo		5:17
3 	Symphony No. 1: 3. Quasi fantasia		5:15
4 	Symphony No. 1: 4. Finale		7:53
5 	Symphony No. 3: 1. Andante sostenuto		10:54
6 	Symphony No. 3: 2. Adagio		8:37
7 	Symphony No. 3: 3. Scherzo		6:19
8 	Symphony No. 3: 4. Finale		6:00

Disc 2
1 	Symphony No. 2: 1. Allegro passionato		12:03
2 	Symphony No. 2: 2. Adagio ma non troppo		11:09
3 	Symphony No. 2: 3. Allegro molto tranquillo		10:59
4 	Swedish Dances: 1. Einleitung, Sehr massig		1:58
5 	Swedish Dances: 2. Ruhig bewegt		1:14
6 	Swedish Dances: 3. Frisch, mit Energie		1:10
7 	Swedish Dances: 4. Langsam, nicht schleppend		1:21
8 	Swedish Dances: 5. Ziemlich schnell		1:06
9 	Swedish Dances: 6. Langsam, nicht schleppend		2:09
10 	Swedish Dances: 7. Lebhaft		1:00

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig 
Kurt Masur – conductor


Max Bruch's three symphonies are not neglected masterpieces that need only competent performance, to reveal their stature. They are works whose rather reticent melodic style, at times dense scoring and formal stiffness, need affectionate help if their genuine qualities are to emerge and outweigh their flaws. Carefully handled there is real romantic charm (and some agreeably brusque sturdiness) to the first movement of the Third Symphony; its Adagio has sonorous solemnity and an ardent climax, and its Scherzo some fire. The Second Symphony, its over-extended finale apart, is stronger still, but both are apt at times to sound crabbed, at others uncomfortably dense. On the whole I wasn't wholly convinced by Kurt Masur's advocacy on his Philips set. The sheer splendour of the Gewandhaus orchestra's sound, which ought to show Bruch in the best light, in fact rather weighs him down, especially when combined with a recording that pays special attention to the richness of the orchestra's bass register. Bruch's palette is quite dark enough as it is, with his fondness for instruments in the middle range and for rather close-set counterpoint.

Conlon and his Cologne players cannot always disguise passages of awkwardly coarse scoring, but their sound, though full, is leaner and less bass-dominated than that of the Gewandhaus, and that is in itself an advantage. Conlon is also more likely to relax into Bruch's genial melodies, to linger and shape them with affectionate rubato. For some tastes Masur's urgency will compensate for his at times lumbering massiveness of sound: playing the slow movement of the Third Symphony about 20 per cent faster than Conlon he certainly gives the music intensity of expression, but I found the leisured, warm phrasing of Conlon's account far more endearing. Masur is often faster than Conlon (his set includes a set of six Swedish Dances but adds only two minutes to Conlon's overall timing), but although longueurs are obvious in both conductors' hands, Conlon seems the more concerned to persuade us not to mind them. Even he is a bit heavy-footed at times (in the Scherzo of the Third Symphony, for example) but for anyone wanting all the symphonies of this neglected but likeable composer his set is a pretty safe recommendation.

Neither set is especially good value, though. Since the Second and Third Symphonies could easily be accommodated on a single CD, it's a pity that you're obliged in both cases to acquire the much less distinguished First as well, for a substantial extra outlay. I can't help pointing out that the Third Symphony is available in a reading less sumptuous but more winning and more relaxed than either Conlon or Masur, by Manfred Honeck and the Hungarian State Orchestra.' --- Michael Oliver,

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:32:00 +0000
Max Bruch - Violin Concerto & Romance (Jansen) Max Bruch - Violin Concerto & Romance (Jansen) [2007]

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1) Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Major, Op. 85 (8:27)

Concert for Violin and Orchestra in G Minor, Op. 26
2) I Vorspiel: Allegro moderato (8:00)
3) II Adagio (8:22)
4) III Finale: Allegro energico (7:16)

Janine Jansen - violin
Riccardo Chailly - conductor


Composed between 1864-68 Bruch dedicated his Violin Concerto No. 1 to the eminent, Hungarian-born violinist Joseph Joachim who went on to premiere the revised version in 1868. Eclipsed by the tremendous popularity of the G minor it is often forgotten that Bruch actually wrote two other fine violin concertos as well as many other splendid scores. In his day he was primarily recognised for his large-scale choral works that earned him a reputation that for a short time outshone that of Brahms.

In the first movement Vorspiel: Allegro moderato Jansen’s interpretation is convincing and highly poetic. Her lyrical aria-like approach seems just perfect. Jansen does not over-accentuate the Jewish sounding melody in the same way as Maxim Fedotov on Naxos. I loved the spirit that suffuses her splendid playing at 1:50-2:11 and 4:26-4:31. She clearly relishes the long melodic lines at 2:34-5:10 with warm-hearted and buoyant playing. My promotion copy has a slight glitch at 5:34 (track 5).

In the beautiful central movement Adagio one continues to be impressed by the playing which is light as a feather, infused with tender sensuousness, ensuring that the interpretation is never over-sentimental. Her expressive playing at several points provides a remarkable depth of blissful passion that can make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. Jansen displays her expertise with great boldness in the brilliant virtuoso passages in the development section of the Finale. Throughout the score Jansen provides a natural understanding of the music’s rhythmic impetus. With great assurance she navigates a broad range of emotions with her vibrant and characterful playing. The first class orchestral support is sympathetic, frequently full-bodied and often beautiful.

There are a large number of recommendable Bruchs and this recording is certainly right up there with the finest. My preferred version is by Jaime Laredo, who directs the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, available from IMP Classics PCS 829, c/w the Mendelssohn. Laredo’s special account is warm and extremely characterful; so full of joy and spontaneity. These Laredo performances have also been reissued on Regis RRC 1152. In addition I am full of admiration for the memorable account from Maxim Fedotov and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra under Dmitry Yablonsky on Naxos 8.557689 (see review). Recorded in 2004 in Moscow, Fedotov’s superb playing displays his innate understanding of the varying emotional states of the Bruch score.

Another favourite version of the Bruch was recorded in Leipzig in 1977 by Salvatore Accardo with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Kurt Masur on Philips Duo 462 167-2. This is an interpretation that sees the stylish Accardo providing vital and characterful playing. The desirable couplings on Accardo’s all-Bruch set are the Violin Concertos 2 & 3; Serenade, Op. 75 and the Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46. Primarily for his exquisite tone and thrilling playing the historical 1962 recording from Jascha Heifetz with the New Symphony Orchestra of London under Sir Malcolm Sargent on RCA 09026 61745-2 draws considerable approval from a large group of admirers. The generous RCA disc also includes the Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 and the Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 5.

This advance promotion recording provides very little information on Bruch’s Romance for viola and orchestra in F major, a late work that I believe was composed around 1911. Fore this rarely heard score Jansen exchanges her violin for the viola to impressive effect. Her playing is highly expressive with a yearning quality and melancholic richness. In her hands Bruch’s score is a very personal and romantic love letter performed with a crystalline beauty. -- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International,

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Wed, 21 Oct 2009 19:56:53 +0000
Max Bruch - Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor Op. 26 (Menuhin) [1991] Max Bruch - Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor Op. 26 (Menuhin) [1991]

I. Allegro moderato
II. Adagio
III. Finale (Allegro energico)

Yehudi Menuhin – violin
Philharmonia Orchestra
Walter Susskind – conductor


Bruch wrote six substantial multi-movement works for violin and orchestra, but only this -- the first of his three official concertos -- and his Scottish Fantasy remain familiar today. Compensating for such neglect is the fact that this is one of the most popular nineteenth century concertos in the repertory, which is all the more remarkable because it was the first big orchestral work Bruch ever published. It didn't come easily to him. Bruch first sketched out the concerto in 1857, but withdrew it after its 1866 premiere. After a thorough revision based on suggestions from a number of violinists and composers, most notably the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim, Bruch released a final version in 1868. It was premiered by and dedicated to Joachim. Although he cast the work in the traditional fast-slow-fast sequence, Bruch generated each movement in sonata form, connecting them all without pause.

The first movement, Allegro moderato, carries the subtitle Vorspiel (Prelude), a holdover from when Bruch was intending to call this a fantasy rather than concerto. A quiet timpani roll and a few disconsolate woodwind phrases set the stage for the violin's meditative entrance, a melody that rises gradually. This is all repeated a bit more assertively, until the full orchestra takes forceful control of the woodwind motif, and the violin spins out a long, impassioned theme over quivering strings and ominous timpani thuds. The second principal subject is more songful and lies lower in the violin's range, until a series of trills take it into a more ardent high register where it hovers for quite some time. The first theme is presented again, double-stops doubling its intensity. This launches the development section, a stormy sequence for the orchestra during which the violin holds its peace. In the return to the movement's opening bars, the violin's solo phrases now serve as abbreviated cadenzas. A short orchestral recapitulation-coda combo leads to the second movement.

The Adagio is a nostalgic aria for the violin. The solo writing becomes increasingly intricate, drifting into a more ardent, but less clearly defined second subject that culminates in three heaving sighs for the orchestra and then the soloist. Bruch subjects all this to a heart-on-sleeve development, deeply emotional without quite becoming mawkish. The recapitulation eases off and inserts a very brief pause before the final movement.

That's the Allegro energetico, which after a careful orchestral buildup turns out to be a joyful dance in a faintly Hungarian style (a tribute both to Joachim, who was Hungarian, and to the Joachim-influenced finale of the Brahms violin concerto). The dance theme is succeeded by some scurrying virtuosic material for the soloist and then a grand romantic melody that creates a climax of its own near the end of the exposition section. Bruch's idea of development here is largely a matter of repeating everything transposed and played at a slightly higher emotional pitch. It's the Hungarian dance that carries the concerto to an exhilarating conclusion that one could hardly anticipate from the work's gloomy beginning. ---James Reel, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Fri, 20 Sep 2013 15:47:59 +0000
Max Bruch – Chamber Music - Piano Quintet-String Music (1999) Max Bruch – Chamber Music - Piano Quintet-String Music (1999)

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String Octet, Op. posth. (1920)
1. Allegro Moderato
2. Adagio
3. Allegro Molto
Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. posth. (1886)
4. Allegro Molto Moderato
5. Adagio
6. Scherzo
7. Finale. Allegro Agitato
String Quintet in A minor, Op. posth. (1918)
8. Allegro
9. Adagio Molto
10. Adagio Non Troppo
11. Allegro

Ensemble Ulf Hoelscher


This disc surveys a fair percentage of Max Bruch's chamber music output. Unlike piano music, Bruch seems to have had no antipathy to chamber music (though understandably, the piano rarely features in his chamber works). Even so, he produced little over the course of his long life. As a child, he wrote a strikingly precocious septet, and while a student of Ferdinand Hiller produced a series of piano trios and a bit later, string quartets. He then turned his attention to opera, orchestral music, and choral music, where he found his true calling. At least, he was encouraged by his contemporaries to think so. Today, of course, Bruch is best known for his orchestral music with violin. His choral music is slowly being rediscovered, but his chamber music is virtually unperformed, and recordings of this music rarely hang around long in the catalogue.

Kudos, then, to CPO for bringing us the current selection of works from the middle and end of Bruch's creative life. The Piano Quintet is a curious affair. Written at the request of English musical amateurs, the work was begun while Bruch served as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic (1880-83) and was finally completed after he returned to Germany. It is dramatic, almost stormy, despite the fact that it predictably makes no great demands on the performers. Still, amateurs would have to be both competent and confident to bring off the fleet third movement scherzo.

The other works have greater substance. The Octet of 1920, the last year of Bruch's life, starts with a radiant sonata allegro based on two lovely, typically Bruchian themes. The slow movement has the tinge of melancholy that flavors many of the composer's slow movements, while the finale is a buoyant piece that sails confidently along. It sounds a lot like the last movement of Bruch's Third Symphony, penned about thirty-five years earlier, and represents not a minute's worth of advance in Bruch's musical thinking over all those years.

The same is true of the String Quintet, one of two such works from 1919. It could just as easily have been penned in the 1880s. Here, the slow movement, based on a movement from Bruch's 1912 Serenade for string orchestra, is the emtional heart of the work. Bruch successfully expands his earlier effort into a movement of tender beauty.

All these works are deserving of live performance, especially the robust and youthful-sounding Octet. But besides the conservatism of Bruch's idiom, another issue that has probably kept performers at arm's length from the two pieces for strings is the fact that the first violinist has the lion's share of work to do, and no ordinary violinist need apply for this job. Fortunately, CPO offered the job to violin virtuoso Ulf Hoelscher and his ensemble. With Hoerlscher, who's had a distinguished solo career, at the helm, Bruch's music gets the kind of performance it deserves.

There is much lovely music here, beautifully played and recorded. If you need to, just pretend the two late works were written when Arnold Schoenberg was still in knee pants, and enjoy. Enjoy. --- M. C. Passarella,

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:42:04 +0000
Max Bruch – Fantasia Scozzese, Kol Nidrei Max Bruch – Fantasia Scozzese, Kol Nidrei

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Fantasia Scozzese for Violin and Orchestra
1. Grave – Adagio
2. Allegro
3. Andante sostenuto
4. Finale. Allegro

Jascha Heifetz - violin
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Willliam Steinberg - conductor

Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra Op.47

Pablo Casals - cello
London Symphony Orchestra
Albert Coates - conductor


Bruch composed Scottish Fantasy in 1880 for violinist Pablo de Sarasate, who played the first performance at Hamburg in September of that year. Bruch wrote more for Sarasate than did any other composer, and while Bruch was fonder of his Second Concerto, the Fantasia Freely Using Scottish Folk Melodies (the present work's formal title) proved to be far more popular.

Bruch freely admitted the influence exerted upon the work by Sir Walter Scott, whose writings had ensnared ruch's attention during a conducting stint in England in 1880; Scott's Lady of the Lake inspired a subsequent cantata, Das Feuerkreuz. The Fantasia opens with a slow, solemnly bardic introduction for brass and harp, and then a recitative for the soloist on a soft cushion of strings. This leads directly to an Adagio cantabile in E flat major, based on the song "Auld Robin Morris," with the harp nearly as prominent as the violin's decorations.

The G major second movement has various titles—"Scherzo: Allegro" and "Dance"—and is based on "Hey, the Dusty Miller." Drone basses imitate the sound of bagpipes, while the violin adds all manner of pyrotechnics after it introduces the tune on double-stopped strings (two strings played with one stroke of the bow). The merriment ends with a bridge passage recalling "Auld Robin Morris." This leads without pause to the third movement, a set of plushly sonorous variations in slower time, Andante sostenuto, on the song "I'm Down for Lack o' Johnnie." The violin rhapsodizes eloquently throughout, and concludes with a memorable sigh.

Bruch gave his finale the same warlike marking, Allegro guerriero, that Mendelssohn used in the last movement of his Scottish Symphony. "Scots wha hae" is the dominant folk melody, legendarily sung by Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. The violin adds excitement by playing on two, three, even four strings simultaneously until a tender reprise of the first movement. "Scots wha hae" returns, however, to conclude the four-movement work rousingly. ---AMG


Max Bruch subtitled his Kol Nidrei "An Adagio on Hebrew Themes for Cello and Orchestra." Composed in 1881, the work is based on two Jewish themes that Bruch described as "first-class." "The first is an age-old Hebrew song of atonement, the second (D major) is the middle section of a moving and truly magnificent song 'O Weep for Those That Wept on Babel's Stream' (setting words by the English poet Byron), equally very old. I got to know both melodies in Berlin, where I had much to do with the children of Israel in the Choral Society," wrote the composer. However, as has been pointed out by Jewish musicians and scholars since the work's premiere, Bruch's secular treatment of the themes hardly qualifies his Kol Nidrei as a piece of Jewish music. As Bruch himself recognized, his Kol Nidrei is no more a Jewish work than his Scottish Fantasy is a Scottish work. In both works, Bruch treated the themes as folk tunes that he took as themes for art music compositions. Bruch was, nevertheless, a master at transforming his "folk tunes" into art music, but still retaining their folk elements. The combination of Bruch's late Romantic expressive harmonies and his Jewish themes created a work of great power and beauty that has maintained its place in the repertoire. ---AMG

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]]> (bluesever) Bruch Max Tue, 09 Mar 2010 23:53:54 +0000