Accompanied by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the American conductor Leonard Slatkin, Richard Lin – 1st prize winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis – performs Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op.46, in the final round of the Competition. Recorded at Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, on September 14, 2018.
Max Bruch was born eleven years after the death of Beethoven, hit his stride as a contemporary (and adoring fan) of Brahms, outlived Debussy and was acquainted with jazz. This longevity witnessed major changes in western classical music, but Bruch resisted their allure. He condemned the Wagnerian Music of the Future ideas, sniffed at twentieth century explorations into atonality and impressionism, and remained loyal to the traditions of Schumann and Mendelssohn.
"The violin can sing a melody better than a piano, and melody is the soul of music", he proclaimed. His trio of violin concerti became very popular. In particular, the G minor Violin Concerto was a huge success, and the Scottish Fantasy, arriving fourteen years later, though not a concerto, shared the reflected glory. In a letter to his publisher on July 30, 1880 Bruch stated "the title ‘Fantasy’ is very general and as a rule refers to a short piece rather than to one in several movements... However, this work cannot properly be called a concerto because the form of the whole is so completely free and because folk-melodies are used".
Bruch adored Scotland (some called him a Scotophile), read Sir Walter Scott, sometimes set Scottish poets to music, and collected Scottish folk songs (as well as those of Sweden and Russia) long before folksong collecting became fashionable or seriously researched as fodder for classical music. In 1863, he published twelve Scottish folk airs in four-part settings; while conductor in Liverpool (1878-1880), he also assiduously studied the indigenous music of Great Britain.
The Scots Musical Museum, a six volume compendium of Scottish songs, appeared between 1787 and 1803. This collection was a primary source for many 19th century composers (including Beethoven) and it was natural that Max Bruch turned to The Scots Musical Museum to obtain authentic musical ideas for Opus 46, written for the Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. From the collection, Bruch pulled three songs with poetry by Robert Burns, and the fourth by an unknown source. Bruch wrote his Scottish Fantasy while snuggly ensconced in his Berlin studio during the winter of 1879-1880. Sarasate premiered Opus 46 in September, 1880 at the Bach Festival in Hamburg.
Opus 46 has four movements, preceded by a lengthy, slow prelude. The first opens in E flat minor with a brooding introduction, reminiscent of the cloudy Scottish weather. Harps and Scottish rhythmic snaps are liberally sprinkled throughout to evoke the Scottish atmosphere and musical presence. Low brass murmur support as the solo violinist sings a sad tune. Sunshine emerges in the Adagio cantabile section which presents the Scottish tune Auld Rob Morris, now discretely harmonized in muted strings.
The second movement (Allegro) begins with small pieces of a musical idea which coalesce into the tune The Dusty Miller (with bagpipe drones [sung by the basses] and country fiddling). Bruch allows this to morph into a Scottish dance. The music relaxes toward the end, quoting Auld Rob Morris before leading into an Andante based on "I’m a' Doun for Lack of Johnnie".
A tiny recall of Auld Rob Morris in recitative style bridges into the third movement, Andante sostenuto. The soloist begins slowly and wistfully, followed by variations.
The finale explodes into fireworks with quotes from "Scots Wha Hae", commemorating the Scottish victory (guaranteeing their independence) at Bannockburn. This tune also became an unofficial national anthem of Scotland. Lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce. Burns allowed the publication of the song in the Morning Chronicle of May 8, 1794, saying, "let them insert it as a thing they have met with by accident and unknown to me". The text reads:
"Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae yer victorie!"
A secondary theme also emerges. After a moment to catch one's breath, the soloist takes off in virtuosic display which is quieted momentarily by a calming interlude, with memories of the opening movement. Led by the orchestra, the war mood is quickly re-invigorated and the violinist enthusiastically joins the martial music before gleefully producing its own fiery cadenza.
Max Bruch (1838-1920)
♪ Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op.46 (1880)
i. Introduction: Grave. Adagio cantabile
ii. Scherzo: Allegro
iii. Andante sostenuto
iv. Finale: Allegro guerriero
Richard Lin, violin
Indianapolis Symphony OrchestraConductor: Leonard Slatkin
Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis, September 14, 2018
Richard Lin is a Taiwanese American violinist. He won competitions in Poland, United States, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan. In 2013 he won the first prize in the Sendai International Music Competition. In 2015 he was the third prize laureate in 9th Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover. In 2016 he was the fifth prize laureate in 15th Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition.
Born in 1991 in the United States and raised in Taichung, Taiwan, Richard Lin began his violin studies at the age of 4. In his native Taiwan, he studied with Gregory Lee. Since 2008 he has studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, under professor Aaron Rosand. Since 2013 he has studied at Juilliard School, under professors Lewis Kaplan. In 2011 he took the second place in 6th Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand. In 2013 he won the first prize in 5th Sendai International Music Competition. In 2015 he was the second prize laureate in Singapore International Violin Competition, and the third prize laureate in 9th Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover. He has appeared as a soloist with Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia, Yokohama Sinfonietta, Macau String Association Orchestra, and Academy of Taiwan Strings. He has also given many solo recitals in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. He currently resides in New York City.
2011: Second Prize in 6th Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand
2013: First Prize and Audience Prize in 5th Sendai International Music Competition
2015: Second Prize, Goh Soon Tioe Violin and Piano Recital Prize and Audience Prize in Singapore International Violin Competition
2015: Third Prize and JJV Community Award in 9th Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover
2016: Fifth Prize in Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition
2016: Fifth Prize in 15th Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition
2018: First Prize in 10th International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei, piano & cello arr. Op.47 – Ernst Simon Glaser, Torleif Torgersen (HD 1080p)
Max Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor – Nicola Benedetti, Jiří Bělohlávek