Brahms/Bruch: Violin Concerto; Violin Concerto No. 1

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COMPOSERS: Brahms/Bruch
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Violin Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Pinchas Zukerman (violin); Los Angeles PO, London Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68046 2 DDD
The great violin concertos of the 19th century had a habit of making timely appearances, first Beethoven’s in 1806, then Mendelssohn’s in 1844. Then it was Bruch (much influenced by Mendelssohn) who produced his masterpiece in 1867 and eleven years later, in 1878, they were joined by Brahms. Bruch and Brahms were friends of the Austro-Hungarian violinist Joachim, who influenced both works. Whereas Brahms wrote nothing further for the instrument as a soloist, Bruch went on to write another eight works for violin and orchestra, but his G minor Concerto has wrongly labelled him a one-work composer. To juxtapose the Bruch/Brahms concertos only confirms the greater genius of Brahms, and Zukerman and Mehta on this disc make no apology for doing so. Mehta gets the Brahms off to a slow start until the rugged second theme and the soloist’s entry, whereupon Zukerman impresses immediately with expansive phrasing. His Bruch is no less committed and he brings sweet-toned lyricism to the noble Adagio, but it is the Hungarian gypsy finales of both concertos which provide a showcase for his technique. Conductor and soloist put plenty of goulash and Bull’s Blood into these rhythmically energetic movements. Christopher Fifield