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Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor Op.44 (1877) [23:24]
Violin Concerto No.3 in D minor Op.58 (1891) [37:01]
Maxim Fedotov (violin)
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
rec. May 2005, Studio 5, KULTURA TV and Radio Company, Moscow
NAXOS 8.557793 [60:24]
Experience Classicsonline

Maxim Fedotov has been immersed in a cycle of Bruch’s works for violin and orchestra for Naxos. This is the first of the individual volumes to have come my way and my opinion is mixed, to say the least.

He’s a fiery, full-blooded player, for whom expressive restraint is doubtless a case of dangerous whimsicality. Instead he ploughs deep into these two concertos armed with pugnacious intent and a war chest of expressive devices. This, allied to a vibrato that is always intense and forthcoming but seldom really reserved or varied, means that a degree of exhaustion can creep into one’s listening. At least it did for me.

The Second Concerto is a splendid work that should be played more in concert. Fedotov plays with impressive sweep and a battery of finger position changes and tonal intensifications that are clearly part of the Russian tradition. In the slow movement, though, this is all too overt. The playing is undifferentiated and showy and there are one or two gestures that are frankly unpleasing. I agree it’s not dull playing, and that’s to the good, but it’s not playing that responds sympathetically to the balances inherent in the music. Whilst I was listening to his sniffs and the terse, chilly indeed glassy recording - with a cold spatial separation - I wondered about the curious proto-Sibelian moments in the finale.

Talking of influence there is some correspondence between the orchestral writing in the Third Concerto and that of Bruch’s near contemporary Dvořák. One needn’t make too much of it, and it’s really only in passing and probably coincidental. In this Concerto Fedotov doesn’t prove quite as hectoring as he had in the D minor. Diminuendi are effective but there’s a lack, once more, of tonal relaxation in the slow movement that, allied to a few glitzy gestures, relegates the performance.

The complete concertos with Accardo are on Philips 4621672 and have easily withstood the tides of critical judgement. Both performances are very much the superior of these Naxos efforts. Of individual historic recommendations you have Heifetz and his Russian contemporary Elman in No. 2, the former strongly to be preferred; Perlman’s glorious recording of No.2 with Jesus Lopez-Cobos, coupled with the Scottish Fantasy and the G minor concerto is on EMI 5625892; the Second is preferable to the remake with Mehta on EMI 7490712. Mordkovich [Chandos CHAN9784] and Hanslip [Warner Classics 0927456642] amongst others have recorded No.3; the former has also recorded No.2 on Chandos CHAN9738.

We’re getting convoluted. The best modern recording of No.2 in my experience is Perlman and the best No.3 is Accardo.

Jonathan Woolf

see also reviews by Rob Maynard and Stephen Vasta






















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