Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Concerto in E minor for clarinet, viola and orchestra Op. 88 (1911)
Eight Pieces for clarinet, viola and piano, Op. 83 (1910) [35:44]
Eva Katrine Dalsgaard (viola), Giovanni Punzi (clarinet), Tanja Zapolski
Copenhagen Phil/Vincenzo Milletari
rec. 2017/18, Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen
BRILLIANT 95673 [53:00]
Bruch is an intriguing late-romantic figure whose reputation has been
anchored from the perspective of our century by his First Violin Concerto.
This is a composer whose legacy is still seen as the work of something
of a subsidiary romantic - beloved but subsidiary. His life and music
have been most thoroughly and sympathetically addressed by Christopher
Fifield. His biography is well worth your time and amongst much
else will remind you of Bruch’s strong Liverpool connections.
It will also lead you onwards to works that extend far beyond the symphonies
(3) and scores for violin and orchestra (including three numbered concertos).
Accardo and Masur made early inroads into these principal works on Philips
and are still reliable listening. CPO, along with much else from Bruch,
also continue to make sun-dappled efforts to bring us his choral and
orchestral works: Arminius
von der Glocke and the grand opera Die Loreley, just issued on 777
005-2. We should also bear in mind the Orfeo CD of Bruch's major
oratorio Moses as conducted by Claus Peter Flor.
Here, from Brilliant, is an uncomfortable coupling. Uncomfortable because
the disc marries a concerto with eight pieces for chamber trio. In fact,
the two works cozied up are almost of a piece. The Eight Pieces
for an unconventional chamber trio have a greater range of mood than
the concerto. It's only a shame that another work was not added
to the complement to bring the disc above a scant 53:27 - but there
The music is of a sweet disposition which, especially in the case of
the concerto, traces its origins back to bel canto. Across
its three movements (I. Andante con moto 6:56; II. Allegro
moderato 5:27; III. Allegro molto 5:13) the two instruments
seem to lean affectionately towards each other. There is no disparity
of approach; no vying for attention. Their shared communing is reminiscent
of the manner of the Brahms Double and the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante
K364. The third movement is vigorous and almost military. There is one
other Bruch double concerto: a Concerto for two pianos recorded by Nathan
Twining and Martin Berkofsky. The well-matched Giovanni Punzi (clarinet)
and Eva Katrine Dalsgaard (viola) from the Concerto are joined by Tanja
Zapolski (piano) for Bruch's Eight Pieces which were
written in 1910, a year before the Double Concerto. These inventive
pieces, of between 2:32 and 6:41, hold the attention quite nicely. The
third, an Andante Con Moto, is quite touching. Punzi provides
the helpful liner notes. The recordings are honest, avoid excessive
glamour and are well-proportioned.
These works of the twentieth century have their roots, trunk, branches
and foliage struck joyously deep in the previous century.