Brahms • Bruch

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Bruch
LABELS: Decca
CATALOGUE NO: 481 1031

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A prodigy who recorded the Mozart Concertos with Claudio Abbado at the age of 15, David Garrett then moved into crossover repertoire but has always been keen on expanding the audiences for ‘serious’ classical music. This recording is part of that mission: these performances, well recorded in Tel Aviv – but no details of precisely when and where – will certainly draw in his many fans. There is more to be had out of both concertos though, in terms of sensitivity of rubato and tonal variety. Take the sequence of opening entries in the Bruch, which are seamless in legato, but don’t really set up the expectant air which should lead to the main Allegro, where rhythms could be tighter. And the slow movement does have some rhythmic flexibility, but it sounds laid on from the outside rather than organic, and the continuous fast vibrato becomes rather wearing.

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The Brahms begins with a rather flabby opening tutti from Zubin Mehta, and Garrett doesn’t provide the intensity that his first sky-rocket entry needs. Despite surface energy – but also some suspect tuning, especially in the Kreisler cadenza – the movement never takes off. In the Adagio, the consistent sweetness of the sound becomes cloying after a while, and the rhythms are mannered rather than seductive. The Hungarian flavour of the finale is better characterised, although there are still some fallible areas of technique, mostly in the wide melodic leaps and double stops, which don’t always click into place. This ultimately robs the music of focus and direction. Martin Cotton