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Donald Macleod explores Max Bruch’s violin works. Today his third violin concerto, a work heralded as a triumph at its premiere in 1891.

Donald Macleod explores Max Bruch’s violin works. Today his third violin concerto, a work heralded as a triumph at its premiere in 1891.

Melody, said Bruch, represents the “soul of music” and nowhere is that better represented than in his first violin concerto. It’s a work which brought him fame and fortune, but it’s also a work he came to hate, since he felt its popularity suppressed performances of his other compositions. It’s a sentiment that has some justification, since he wrote some two hundred odd works., most of which are rarely performed.

Aside from a natural outspokenness and a tendency to take umbrage, which lead to some very prickly professional relationships, Bruch also had to contend with some unlucky timing. Born in Cologne in 1838, Bruch was five years younger than Brahms. Even though he outlived him by some twenty years Bruch remained over-shadowed by one of the great luminaries of German music.

This week though the spotlight falls firmly on Bruch, as Donald Macleod explores his concerted works for the violin, an instrument with which he had a very close relationship. Starting with that most famous example Bruch came to resent so much, you can also hear the second violin concerto, which was championed in more recent times by Itzhak Perlman, the third violin concerto, the folk-inspired Scottish Melody and one of his final utterances for the instrument, the Konzertstück, Opus 84.

The completion of the third concerto repaired Bruch's association with the violinist Joseph Joachim. Even with cordial relations once again restored, the collaboration hit a glitch over last minute changes. It was left to rival virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate to give the first performance.

Symphony No 3 Scherzo
Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Manfred Honeck, conductor

Romance in A minor Op 42
Maxim Fedotov, violin
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Dmitry Yablonsky, conductor

Das Lied von der Glocke. Op. 45 1. Festgemauert in der Erden, II. Praeludium, III. Denn mit der Freude Feierklange
Mario Hoff, bass
Philharmonic Choir, Prague
Staatskapelle Weimar
Jac van Steen, conductor

Violin concerto no 3 1st movt
Jack Liebeck, violin
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins, conductor

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