Zina Schiff / José Serebrier / Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Ernest Bloch: Violin Concerto; Baal Shem; Suite Hébraïque

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A wonderfully cohesive program brilliantly executed, this disc by violinist Zina Schiff with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under José Serebrier is a superb single-disc collection of Ernest Bloch's major works for violin and orchestra. Each piece is based on Jewish themes, explicitly in Baal Shem (Three Pictures of Chassdic Life) and Suite Hébraïque, and implicitly in the Violin Concerto. But, as Bloch wrote, he strove in all three works to embody "the complex, glowing, agitated soul that I feel vibrating through the Bible." Regardless of inspiration, all three works are colorful, rhapsodic, and flamboyantly virtuosic. Zina Schiff is a first-rate violinist fully up to the music's tremendous technical challenges, and a first-rate musician who can get inside the soul of Bloch's extravagantly expressive music. Serebrier is an able conductor who favors bright colors and propulsive tempos and the Royal Scottish is, as always, a reliable orchestra. Recorded at Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow in 2006, Naxos' digital sound is perhaps a little too forward, but nevertheless very alluring.

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