There is probably not enough music like this -- music that is a consistent pleasure to listen to, music that is not cheap or second-rate but that makes few or no demands on the listener. Up to now my total collection of Bruch has been one LP consisting of the second Violin Concerto and the Scottish Fantasia played by Perlman. Most experienced music-lovers probably know the first
Violin Concerto and Kol Nidrei well enough not to need their own copy -- a variety of performances crops up regularly in the nature of Radio 3. As for the rest of his output, I would have carried happily on waiting for any of it that came my way until I saw that he had done a concerto for viola and clarinet. Why no other composer that I can think of has leapt with enthusiasm at the obviously attractive combination (I would have thought) of clarinet with violin or viola is a bit of a mystery to me. To my total unsurprise, it turns out to be thoroughly attractive and I guess this is going to be a record I play a lot. Bruch was a genuine master, not just in the sense of being an out-and-out professional (you could say that much of Reger) but as also having a distinguished and distinctive melodic gift. This whole disc, not just the concerto, is a pleasure from beginning to end.
I did not know a single piece on it when I first played it but it is not going to be long before I know them all the way I know Brahms. The performances are all sympathetic and accomplished. I shall now be more on the lookout than I was for renderings by other artists, but this is a little treasure for my collection and I cannot imagine it being easily supplanted. To go off at a tangent, I recently came by another gem of easy listening from an earlier era namely Gluck's ballet Don Juan conducted by Gardiner. Budget price, lasting value.
on 19 January 2008
The concerto is very appealing and full of melodic grace, while wistful in its sonorities. It's beautifully performed here. Why is such a lovely piece not better known - i.e not performed more often? One would have thought there are soloists out there crying out to give it a go, especially when the inspiration is so consistently high. It's not glitzy or virtuosic, just expertly written, memorable and satisfying. Bruch wrote much more than that pesky G minor violin concerto. Try the second symphony on Phillips, conducted by Masur: sonorous, Brahmsian stuff (without the long-windedness!)
on 23 February 2011
I love classical music, though cannot say I "understand" it. I bought this after hearing a Bruch violin piece on Radio 3 which was captivating and made me want to listen to more of his work. As I love the sound of both the viola and clarinet this seemed like a perfect choice especially as it is so cheap. It is absolutley gorgeous - not a technical analysis of musicianship or classical composition I realize but hopefully it will be enough to encourage others to make a very worthwhile purchase.
on 12 June 2012
With a clutch of 5star reviews on this site already does this disc really need yet another? Well,YES,appparently.Just why this gorgeous music is not better known I cannot understand.A few weeks ago some of my professional musician friends got together to play the lovely "Kegelsstatt" Trio for me.I suggested they might like to include the 8 Pieces by Bruch in the concert.Only the viola player( a well known and highly experienced artist) knew the work.At the end of the weekend of rehearsal and performance they were all deeply in love with the music and thanking me for introducing them to it! But then this wonderful disc includes the richly inventive and melodious Concerto plus the meltingly beautiful Romance.
A word about the viola player Gerard Causse.He is one of the greatest viola players of our day and purchased the legendary 1596 Gaspar da Salo instrumentfrom its then owner,my good friend the late Harbert Downes who led the Philharmonia's viola section from its inception,playing under the likes of Toscanini and Richard Strauss.The original Erato recording is dated 1990 so it is difficult to be sure whether we are listening to that fabulous instrument.What is certain is that the young player referred to above in my "personal" concert played it at Bert Downes' home when I took him to have tea there as a teenager!!
I have to say, I bought this CD only because I am a clarinettist and I like the viola/clarinet combination (like in the Mozart Kegelstatt Trio), so I didn't have much hope for the composition quality other than a curiosity because I find Bruch bland, based on just the violin concertos I've heard ... But I was very pleasantly surprised to find out how inventive Bruch was in terms of melodies and the blending of the two solo instruments here. Superior compositions compared to the very trite and overplayed violin concertos! Highly recommended to anyone even those who are not clarinet players.