Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bruch, in the shadow of Brahms

The German composer Max Bruch is a well-known name, but mainly for a very few compositions. Beyond his perennial favourite violin concerto, only the Scottish fantasy and Kol Nidrei have gained interest from the masses. The rest of his output is grossly neglected, possibly because his style is perhaps too close to Brahms without the spark of absolute genius. Still, it is very rewarding to explore his oeuvre. His three symphonies do not really stand out, but his chamber music is excellent, in particular his two string quartets which I rate higher than Brahms' three. But the highlight of his work is his three violin concertos. Yes, he wrote three of them, even though only the first is heard on a regular basis. As an introduction to the composer, this Naxos disc of the later two less known masterpieces, in the version by Maxim Fedotov and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra under Dmitry Yablonsky. If you like violin concertos from the romantic period, this disc is a must.