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Max Bruch – Scottish Fantasy; Violin Concerto No. 2 – Itzhak Perlman, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Jesus Lopez-Cobos (2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Max Bruch – Scottish Fantasy; Violin Concerto No. 2 – Itzhak Perlman, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Jesus Lopez-Cobos (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 58:29 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Q0buz | Artwork: Digital Booklet | © Parlophone Records/Warner Classics
Recorded: No.1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, 27 & 28 February 1976

These two works for violin by Max Bruch owe a great deal to Jascha Heifetz, who was really the first to champion them and, most importantly, the first to record them: the Scottish Fantasy in 1947 and the Second Concerto in 1954. Itzhak Perlman, who has often acknowledged Heifetz’s influence on his taste in and choice of repertoire, recorded both works early in his career (1976) before returning to them a decade later (see volume 40). The Concerto in D minor, Op.44 was written for the great Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, who gave its premiere in London in November 1878. Overshadowed, as was No.3, by Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, Op.26, it soon fell into neglect. It is, however, a work full of innovative touches, such as the choice of an Adagio to open the concerto, in place of the conventional Allegro, or the instrumental recitative that follows and both harks back to the first movement and anticipates the finale. Despite its dramatic gestures and the beauty of the solo part, however, this second work failed to match its predecessor’s success. Heifetz’s recording, as well as that made a few years later by Mischa Elman (1956), played an essential role in establishing its place in the repertoire.

The Scottish Fantasy, Op.46, was written two years after Op.44 (1880), again for Sarasate – who also drew on Scottish folk music in some of his own compositions. Bruch borrowed its main themes from authentic folk songs that he himself had scrupulously copied down. “It can’t really be thought of as a concerto,” he wrote, “because of the complete freedom with which the work as a whole is put together, and also because it makes use of folk tunes.” After a sombre and solemn introduction inspired by the writings of Sir Walter Scott, each of the following four movements quotes a traditional Scottish song. The Adagio cantabile features the attractive “Through the wood, laddie” (not “Auld Robin Morris”, as is often claimed), while the Allegro is based on the lively tune of “The Dusty Miller”, with some particularly virtuoso writing for the soloist. The third movement, Andante sostenuto, follows without a break and draws on “I’m a’ doun for lack o’ Johnnie”, and the Allegro guerriero finale uses the centuries-old tune to which Burns later set the lyrics of “Scots, wha hae”. Bruch and Sarasate having fallen out, it was Joseph Joachim, Sarasate’s great rival, who gave the premiere of the Scottish Fantasy in Liverpool in February 1881, in what Bruch judged to be a mediocre performance, lacking in both technical quality and emotional investment. In March 1883, after a reconciliation with the composer, Sarasate gave a memorable rendering of the work in London, at a memorial concert for Wagner. Nevertheless, the Fantasy disappeared from view for the first half of the twentieth century, until Heifetz made that first recording. His example was then followed by Michael Rabin (1957), Alfredo Campoli (1958), David Oistrakh (1962), Kyung Wha Chung (1972), Arthur Grumiaux (1973) and, of course, Itzhak Perlman. –Jean-Michel Molkhou


Max Bruch (1838–1920)

Scottish Fantasy, Op.46
1 Einleitung: Grave — 4.09
2 I Adagio cantabile 5.07
3 II Allegro — 6.32
4 III Andante sostenuto 7.04
5 IV Finale: Allegro guerriero 9.41

Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, Op.44
6 I Adagio ma non troppo 12.36
7 II Recitative: Allegro moderato — 3.43
8 III Finale: Allegro molto 9.38

Itzhak Perlman, violin
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Jesus Lopez-Cobos, conductor


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