The immense popularity of his Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, both during his lifetime and into modern times, turned out to be almost something of a curse for composer Max Bruch. The violin concerto, his first foray into the concerto genre, was helped along by none other than Joseph Joachim. So widespread was the success of the concerto that Bruch found it difficult if not impossible to compose subsequent instrumental works that could stand against it. In the almost six decades between the completion of the violin concerto and Bruch's death, few works were even to come close. In addition to the concerto, this BIS album attempts to shed new light on some of his more neglected compositions, including the Op. 85 Romance in F major and the String Quintet in A minor, one of the composer's final works. Violinist Vadim Gluzman joins the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton for an exciting, dynamic performance of the concerto. Gluzman's playing is vibrant and energetic; his tone is both sumptuously warm and assertively powerful. Litton's orchestral leadership is equally enthralling. He does not simply race through the considerable orchestral tuttis, but adds shape, color, and interest throughout. Gluzman joins four other colleagues for a rare reading of the string quintet. Though written well into the 20th century, the quintet could just as well have been written in the mid-1800s; Bruch's commitment to Romantic ideals remained resolute right up to the end. The performance here is just as vivacious and edgy as the concerto, casting the little-heard work in its best possible light.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Concerto No. 1 in G minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 26|
|String Quintet in A minor, Op. posth.|