Max Bruch

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 44

    Description by James Reel

    While violinist Joseph Joachim had a hand in fine-tuning Max Bruch's first violin concerto, Pablo Sarasate was the direct inspiration for Bruch's second concerto. This is unfortunate, for Bruch provided the Spanish soloist a virtuoso vehicle lacking the balance and direct expression that made his first concerto so popular.

    This concerto begins with a long Adagio non troppo, which Johannes Brahms found altogether troppo: "Normal people cannot endure it," he wrote. The movement is in sonata form, the violin singing out a first theme tailored specifically to what Bruch called Sarasate's "soulful" style. This is the concerto's strongest movement, with highly expressive writing for the soloist over unobtrusive, but effective, ominous support from the orchestra. Despite a few high-tension passages replete with double stops, this movement does not require fireworks from the soloist.

    The brief second movement, described as a recitative, picks up the pace somewhat with a sequence of declamatory passages for the violin, cheered on by orchestral outbursts, that link the outer movements thematically. The movement also functions somewhat as a big, accompanied cadenza.

    The finale, an Allegro molto in loose sonata form, brings on the pyrotechnics. The soloist uses the rather Lalo-like themes as little more than an excuse for virtuosic display, with the orchestra almost fully subservient to the violin's survey of bowing effects and showy double-stop writing. The music does ease off from time to time, but these more relaxed episodes still require ardent playing from the soloist, and the rip-roaring final measures are clearly designed to bring an audience to its feet.


    1. Adagio ma non troppo
    2. Recitativo. Allegro moderato
    3. Finale. Allegro molto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Hyperion CDA 68055
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646777815
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646129836
    2015 BIS BIS 2069
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646130184
    2015 Chandos / Chandos Classics CHAN 10865X
    2014 CPO 7778332
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099943329
    2012 Gega GD 360
    2009 Naxos 8557793
    2008 CBC Records 5245
    2006 EBS 6141
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 56525
    2006 Warner Classics
    2005 EMI Music Distribution
    2005 EMI Classics
    2004 IDIS 6433
    2004 Testament 1343
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 62589
    2003 EMI Classics 85083
    2002 CBC Records 5222
    2002 Vox VXP7905
    1999 Chandos 9738
    1998 Philips
    1998 Philips 462167
    1997 BMG 61751
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 83177
    1995 Delos 3156
    1994 Claves 9318
    1994 EBS 6049
    1988 EMI Music Distribution 49071
    RCA Victor 60927