- Symphony No.1, in E flat, Op. 28
- Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, Op. 44
- Symphony No. 2 in F minor, Op. 36
- Konzertstück (Allegro appassionata & Adagio), for violin & orchestra/piano in F sharp minor, Op. 84
- Symphony No.3, in E major Op. 51
- Swedish Dances, 15 pieces in 2 books for violin & piano (also orchestrated and arranged for solo piano), Op. 63
Although it may not change the pantheon of The Great German Symphonists of the nineteenth century, this disc of the three symphonies of Max Bruch may at least help bring the composer back from the land of the nearly forgotten (except, of course, for the "Second Violin Concerto" and the "Scottish Fantasy") to the land of the intermittently programmed. Although his symphonies were composed between 1869 and 1882, Bruch's romantic harmonic language and dramatic orchestral rhetoric clearly belong to the pre-1848 era. Not only do his themes sometimes resemble those of Schumann and his harmonies occasionally recall those of Mendelssohn, but there is nothing in this music to reveal the influence of Brahms' heroism, much less Wagner's chromaticism. Be that as it may, there are still many things to enjoy in Bruch's symphonic art: a cheerful optimism, a congenial warmth, and, above all, an earnest sincerity that brooks no doubt. Johannes Wildner brings tremendous enthusiasm to Bruch's music, giving it clarity of intention and strength of purpose. The Neue Philharmonie Westfalen brings enormous energy to Bruch's music, granting it both power and sensitivity. Coupled with the three symphonies are Bruch's first two violin concertos played here with insight and dedication by soloist Ursula Schoch. While her ardent performances cannot match those of the best performers of the past, they are more than acceptable as fillers for the symphonies, as are the 15 orchestrated versions of Bruch's charmingly lightweight "Swedish Dances." Those who already know and love the symphonies of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Brahms may want to check out Bruch to see what their competition was like. EBS' super audio sound -- colorful but cool, big but distant, detailed but two-dimensional -- isn't all that impressive.