Bruch: Concerto for Violin and Viola; Romance, Op. 85; Eight Pieces for Violin, Viola and Piano, Op. 83

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COMPOSERS: Bruch
LABELS: Transart
WORKS: Concerto for Violin and Viola; Romance, Op. 85; Eight Pieces for Violin, Viola and Piano, Op. 83
PERFORMER: Guillaume Sutre (violin), Miguel Da Silva (viola), Bruno Fontaine (piano); Orchestre de Bretagne/Stefan Sanderling
CATALOGUE NO: TR 105
The music of Max Bruch (1838-1920) has tended to be perceived as poor man’s Brahms, both during his lifetime and ever since, but this programme of music that holds an honoured place in the viola repertoire shows Bruch’s inspiration to possess a pleasantly vernal quality. There are several rousing moments (ardently performed), but the primary impression is of sweetness – an effect also stressed by the performers, although the rather slow, wide vibrato of the two soloists occasionally tends towards the saccharine. In certain respects, however, this disc is an odd one. First, the Eight Pieces, Op. 83, which Bruch wrote for clarinet and viola, or alternatively for violin and cello (in each case with piano accompaniment), do not contain enough timbral variety when played (as here) on violin and viola. (Although Bruch originally scored the present Concerto for clarinet and viola, he authorised the substitution of violin for clarinet). Second, the recorded sound is problematical; while the soloists seem nicely present and accompaniments beautifully spacious, the difference in perspective between the two units produces some dead spots. Finally, extended applause draws unnecessary attention to the performers when the composer is more obviously the focus of attention. David Breckbill

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