After beginning a three-album Bruch series with the little-known Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 58, Liebeck here takes up one of the composer's most famous works, the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. The rest of the program, though, advances the aim of Hyperion's Romantic Violin Concerto series, which is to recover forgotten works of the period. The little Romance in A minor, Op. 42 and the Serenade in A minor, Op. 75 both got started as concertos, but never came to full fruition.
A highly versatile musician, Ulf Wallin has recorded a succession of discs for BIS, including music by Schoenberg, Schnittke, Janacek and Hindemith. Lately he has focussed on Romantic composers, resulting in an acclaimed recording of Schumann's complete works for violin and orchestra (Daily Telegraph: 'It's hard to imagine more sympathetic and insightful performances of these wonderful pieces'). Supported by the eminent Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Okko Kamu, Wallin now offers a programme spanning some 30 years of the long career of Max Bruch.
Medieval Baebes and other far greater shocks to the bourgeoisie have come along. Wild adventures placed under the rubric of performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons are commonplace. Yet Nigel Kennedy continues to roost atop the classical sales charts in Europe, and even to command a decent following in the U.S. despite a low American tolerance for British eccentricity. How does he do it? He has kept reinventing himself successfully. Perhaps he's the classical world's version of Madonna: he's possessed of both unerring commercial instincts and with enough of a sense of style to be able to dress them up as forms of rebellion. Inner Thoughts is a collection of slow movements – inner movements of famous concertos from Bach and Vivaldi to Brahms, Bruch, and Elgar. Actually, the only composer falling into the middle of that large chronological gap is Mendelssohn; Kennedy apparently needs a sort of otherworldly serenity for this project, which Baroque and post-Romantic slow movements may have, but Mozart does not. At any rate, this is no radical idea; it's a softball straight up the middle.
From an early age Max Bruch had enjoyed the ideal conditions for becoming a composer: his family had considerable cultural awareness and gave him all the support he needed. He had already composed not only a (lost) symphony but a significant proportion of his chamber music while still a student. The two youthful String Quartets Op.9 in C minor and Op.10 in E major show a Romantic exuberance poured into classic and classical moulds. The members of the ISOS Quartet — Isabelle van Keulen, Katharine Gowers, Vladimir Mendelssohn and Imke Frank — know each other from several important summer festivals as Lockenhaus and Kuhmo. As their CD debut, they recorded both string quartets by Max Bruch exclusively for Koch International Schwann.
There are several reasons to own this Vox Box 2CD set. For the first, it includes five great violin concertos in some of the very best performances in their discography. For the second, Ivry Gitlis (born 1922) is a great living violinist and these recordings made in early 1950s show his art in the best way, when Ivry's violin sounded powerful and brilliant.