Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 3; Symphony No. 2

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LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 3; Symphony No. 2
PERFORMER: Andreas Krecher (violin); Wuppertal SO/Gernot Schmalfuss
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 335 0868-2
Max Bruch seems to be enjoying something of a revival at present, his tuneful music proving ever more popular with the public, with the three symphonies and works for violin and orchestra other than the obvious G minor concerto now having several worthy performances in the catalogue. Wuppertal’s Town Hall not only has a suitably spacious sound for the orchestra’s sumptuous textures and the talented Krecher’s full-blooded Romantic sound in the concerto, it was also the venue for many Bruch performances in the latter years of the last century, in particular the choral works (to which record companies must now surely turn their attention). The concerto has some beautifully caressed phrasing in the slow movement while the muscularly rhythmic finale starts at a briskly exciting pace but then slows rather tastelessly (nothing to do with the composer) at the major section. Bruch’s first two symphonies (1868 and 1870 respectively) are an important link between Schumann’s last (1851) and Brahms’s first (1877). Though Schmalfuss takes liberties with the dynamics towards the end of the first movement development, introducing pianissimos where none is marked, he generally has the measure of the style, particularly in the Adagio, even if the horns are too neglected throughout. Christopher Fifield