A new Sony Classical release from Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell showcases two masterpieces from romantic composer Max Bruch. The album features Bell’s first recording of the virtuosic Scottish Fantasy as well as a new recording of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, which he first recorded over thirty years ago with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner. Now, as Music Director of the Academy, Bell both performs and directs the orchestra and offers a fresh take on the Bruch Concerto in addition to a thrilling performance of the Scottish Fantasy. In recent years, the Scottish Fantasy has become a favourite performance piece for Bell and his affection for the piece runs deep and with good reason: “My father’s descendants were from Scotland, and I grew up hearing stories about how my great- grandfather and great-great-grandfather fought in the Black Watch in Scotland. My dad was proud of his Scottish heritage, and this connection makes the melodies in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy even more meaningful to me.”
Japanese-British pianist Mitsuko Uchida continues to impress with recordings that are not so much intellectual as simply well thought out, making a challenging yet extremely satisfying overall impression. Consider the three works by Robert Schumann recorded here. Only the Waldszenen, Op. 82 (Forest Scenes), are well known. The Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, is an early but not immature work, composed in 1830 and supplied with a new finale in 1838 at the suggestion of Clara Schumann, who pointed out that while she could play the original version, few others would be able to.
Ukrainian pianist Oleg Poliansky joins Volker Hartung and the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra in performing cherished orchestral works by Dvorak, including the dramatic Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 33, B. 63, in addition to the exuberant Slavonic Dances.
The second installment in Sakari Oramo's superb hybrid SACD cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen on BIS presents the Symphony No. 1 in G minor and the Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva," two ruggedly independent works that reflect the composer's late Romantic style yet point to the modernism to come. While the Symphony No. 1 was influenced by Brahms and offers a rich harmonic language, propulsive rhythms, and a fairly homogenous orchestral palette, the Symphony No. 3 is striking for its reliance on unfolding counterpoint and long-breathed lines, and most notable for the use of wordless parts for soprano and baritone voices in the pastoral slow movement. These performances by Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are exceptional for their stunning power and spacious feeling, though the crisp details and focused sound quality will be the biggest draw for audiophiles.