One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Violin Concerto No. 3 in D minor, op. 58 (1891) [38:35]
Scottish Fantasy in E flat major, op. 46 (1880) [31:00]
Jack Liebeck (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
rec. 2013, City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, UK
HYPERION CDA68050 [69:35]

This is Volume 17 in Hyperion’s Romantic Violin Concerto series. While the Piano series has mostly concentrated on “unsung” composers, the Violin series has had more prominent names, among them Saint-SaŽns, Schumann and Strauss. Thus, the appearance of Max Bruch’s name is not too surprising. Certainly his third concerto is a rarity on record, the two recordings here being among the half-dozen or so currently available. That Hyperion elected to partner it with the very popular Scottish Fantasy suggests to me a lack of courage. Was there the thought that the recording needed a well-known work to help it sell? That hasn’t been the case through most of the Romantic Concerto series, and it is not as though Bruch wrote nothing else for violin and orchestra. The late, very substantial and very rare Serenade (op. 75) would have been a disc-mate far more appealing to collectors.

We are not short of great recordings of the much-loved Fantasy: Heifetz, Oistrakh, Chung, and more recently Benedetti and Pine. Where does Liebeck fit into this? I am sad to report that his performance sinks without a trace, almost from the start. He has chosen a very deliberate and restrained approach, with little drama or romance. I have no doubt that he is a fine violinist, and he is accompanied by a great orchestra and very experienced conductor, so this clearly is his vision of the work. Unfortunately, for me it is lifeless, colourless and a complete miscalculation. It sounds slow, but is in fact the same overall timing as Nicola Benedetti’s outstanding recording from last year (see review). Brian Wilson described Liebeck’s performance as ‘rhapsodic’ in DL News 2014/12; I can’t be that polite.

Things are not much better with the Third Concerto, a work which somehow I had not heard before. Brian found it “unengaging”, a sentiment with which I agree. He felt it was due to the expansive tempo adopted in the very long first movement, but Lydia Mordkovitch on a recent Chandos reissue takes almost two minutes longer, and manages to hold interest. In the finale, Liebeck is unquestionably too slow, and as with the Fantasy, what emerges is lifeless. The Third Concerto is not a great work, and needs far better advocacy than it gets here.

I can at least report on the positive side that the notes by Tully Potter and the sound are up to the usual label standard. I don't like writing reviews like this. Had I not downloaded this as a review copy from Hyperion, and hence felt obliged to write a review, I would have kept my thoughts to myself. I will be deleting it from my hard drive – that doesn’t happen often.

David Barker









Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger