Max Bruch's music is a bit of a curate's egg. As the verbose Eckard van den Hoogen in the booklet essay laboriously points out, in many of Bruch's works the pedestrian and the inspired can be found rubbing shoulders. Bruch very often tried too hard to make an impression (there is a delightful quote from Brahms who, when Bruch proudly showed him his oratorio "Odysseus", merely remarked "my dear Bruch, where DID you get that beautiful score paper?". Bruch's reaction is not recorded) and his swagger, like his obnoxious remark that as a composer for the violin he had virtually no equal, put many people's backs up. Bruch has been lucky in a sense that, while all his other works sunk into obscurity almost the moment he died, his first violin concerto has remained firmly in the repertoire. Recordings of his three symphonies are rare and far between, of his oratorio only Mozes and Das Lied von der Glocke are available the rest of his huge output is still resting in obscurity. CPO have recently issued the string quartets, the octet, Das Lied von der Glocke and this CD, which is a delight from start to finish. The disc contains two suites of Swedish dances for orchestra, a serenade of Swedish melodies for string orchestra and a suite of Russian folk melodies for large orchestra. The Russian melodies are extravagantly beautiful, the broadly scored opening really grabs you by the throat, the funeral march almost gives Mahler a run for his money and the rousing finale is, well, rousing. The Swedish melodies for string orchestra are very well done too, beautiful, haunting melodies, very well scored. The Swedish dances are perhaps slightly less inspired, but make for pleasurable listening nonetheless. The orchestra under veteran W.A. Albert turns in very fine performances and recorded sound is excellent. The attractive booklet art work, while perhaps not the reason to buy or not buy a CD, is also one of the strong points of CPO (the major labels could learn a thing or two from them in this department too!). Well done.