Giacomo Susani

Giacomo Susani
Giacomo Susani (Photo by Luciano Tomasin, 2015)

Monday, January 06, 2014

Max Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor – Nicola Benedetti, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

Bruch wrote six substantial multi-movement works for violin and orchestra, but only this – the first of his three official concertos – and his Scottish Fantasy remain familiar today. Compensating for such neglect is the fact that this is one of the most popular nineteenth century concertos in the repertory, which is all the more remarkable because it was the first big orchestral work Bruch ever published. It didn't come easily to him. Bruch first sketched out the concerto in 1857, but withdrew it after its 1866 premiere. After a thorough revision based on suggestions from a number of violinists and composers, most notably the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim, Bruch released a final version in 1868. It was premiered by and dedicated to Joachim. Although he cast the work in the traditional fast-slow-fast sequence, Bruch generated each movement in sonata form, connecting them all without pause.

The first movement, Allegro moderato, carries the subtitle Vorspiel (Prelude), a holdover from when Bruch was intending to call this a fantasy rather than concerto. A quiet timpani roll and a few disconsolate woodwind phrases set the stage for the violin's meditative entrance, a melody that rises gradually. This is all repeated a bit more assertively, until the full orchestra takes forceful control of the woodwind motif, and the violin spins out a long, impassioned theme over quivering strings and ominous timpani thuds. The second principal subject is more songful and lies lower in the violin's range, until a series of trills take it into a more ardent high register where it hovers for quite some time. The first theme is presented again, double-stops doubling its intensity. This launches the development section, a stormy sequence for the orchestra during which the violin holds its peace. In the return to the movement's opening bars, the violin's solo phrases now serve as abbreviated cadenzas. A short orchestral recapitulation-coda combo leads to the second movement.

The Adagio is a nostalgic aria for the violin. The solo writing becomes increasingly intricate, drifting into a more ardent, but less clearly defined second subject that culminates in three heaving sighs for the orchestra and then the soloist. Bruch subjects all this to a heart-on-sleeve development, deeply emotional without quite becoming mawkish. The recapitulation eases off and inserts a very brief pause before the final movement.

That's the Allegro energetico, which after a careful orchestral buildup turns out to be a joyful dance in a faintly Hungarian style (a tribute both to Joachim, who was Hungarian, and to the Joachim-influenced finale of the Brahms violin concerto). The dance theme is succeeded by some scurrying virtuosic material for the soloist and then a grand romantic melody that creates a climax of its own near the end of the exposition section. Bruch's idea of development here is largely a matter of repeating everything transposed and played at a slightly higher emotional pitch. It's the Hungarian dance that carries the concerto to an exhilarating conclusion that one could hardly anticipate from the work's gloomy beginning.

Source: James Reel (

Συνθέτης ιδιαίτερης ακαδημαϊκής φήμης, ο Μαξ Μπρουχ εκπροσώπησε σε όλη του τη ζωή ένα βαθιά λυρικό, μελωδικό ιδίωμα που ελάχιστα εξελίχθηκε στη διάρκεια του 82ετούς βίου του, όπως αποδεικνύεται από την ακρόαση των τελευταίων συνθέσεων της μουσικής δωματίου του. Παρά την προσοχή που σποραδικά επιφυλάσσουν μεγάλοι βιολονίστες στη «Σκοτσέζικη Φαντασία» και, λιγότερο, στο Δεύτερο Κοντσέρτο του, και οι δεξιοτέχνες του τσέλου στο μυστικιστικό «Κολ Νίντρε», το πρώτο κοντσέρτο του για βιολί και ορχήστρα, σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 26, ενσωματώνει την εξέχουσα ευκαιρία της μουσικής του αθανασίας. — Λουκάκος Κ.

Το Κοντσέρτο για βιολί σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 26, του Μαξ Μπρουχ ερμηνεύει η διακεκριμένη Σκοτσέζα βιολονίστρια Nicola Benedetti. Τη Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα του BBC διευθύνει ο σπουδαίος Τσέχος αρχιμουσικός Γίρζι Μπελοχλάβεκ.

Max Bruch (1838-1920)

♪ Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26 (1866, 1867)

i. Vorspiel: Allegro moderato

ii. Adagio
iii. Finale: Allegro energico

Nicola Benedetti, violin

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek

Royal Albert Hall, Last Night of the Proms, September 8, 2012

(HD 720p)

First publication: January 6, 2014 – Last update: April 1, 2017

See also

Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicola Benedetti, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (HD 1080p)

Edward Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 in D major "Land of Hope and Glory" – Jiří Bělohlávek

Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei, piano & cello arr. Op.47 – Ernst Simon Glaser, Torleif Torgersen

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