Martyn Brabbins conducts Jack Liebeck and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Bruch
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Bruch
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2; Konzertstück; In Memoriam; Adagio appassionato
PERFORMER: Jack Liebeck (violin); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68055

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Bruch spent most of his long career in the shadow of his First Violin Concerto’s supreme popularity. As a result, a great deal of highly attractive music fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until Itzhak Perlman recorded the Second Concerto (twice) for EMI in the 1970s/’80s, and Salvatore Accardo all of Bruch’s violin concertante works for Philips around the same time, that most of us realised what we had been missing.

Jack Liebeck, who has already recorded Bruch’s First and Third Violin Concertos for Hyperion, might be said to combine Perlman’s musical intensity with Accardo’s Italianate tonal purity and litheness. Throughout the Second Concerto, with its unforgettable soaring opening, Liebeck combines a beguiling silvery sound with tantalising interpretative restraint, free of heart-on-the-sleeve rhetoric. Some might prefer a more overtly indulgent cantabile soulfulness, although rarely has Bruch’s melodic genius been sounded with such chaste sweetness as here, ideally complimented by Liebeck’s captivating narrow-fast vibrato.

Yet it is in the one-movement items that he really comes into his own, weaving compelling emotional narratives out of material that is not always necessarily of the highest distinction. Backed to the hilt by Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, captured in naturally glowing yet detailed sound, he somehow makes the Konzertstück sound like a masterpiece in full bloom.

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Julian Haylock