Magazine article Gramophone

Two Bruch First Concertos from Berlin Phil's Concertmaster and Julia Fischer

Magazine article Gramophone

Two Bruch First Concertos from Berlin Phil's Concertmaster and Julia Fischer

Article excerpt

Bruch

Violin Concerto No 1, Op 26. Romance, Op 85.

Scottish Fantasy, Op 46

Guy Braunstein vn

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Ion Marin

Tudor (F) (SACD) TUDOR7188 (64' * DDD/DSD)

Bruch Dyofak (GC) (GP)

Bruch Violin Concerto No 1, Op 26

Dvorak Violin Concerto, Op 53 B108

Julia Fischer vn

Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra / David Zinman

Decca (F) 478 3544DH (56' * DDD)

Guy Braunstein is a persuasive player who is soon to step down from his current position as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic to pursue a solo career. He has a sweet, refined sound, which he employs to engaging musical effect, especially towards the close of the third movement of the Scottish Fantasy. Readers who know the Fantasy only from Heifetz's recordings will be interested to hear one or two passages that Heifetz and his collaborators habitually cut. The recorded evidence suggests that Braunstein prioritises the music rather than the instrument's purely virtuoso potential, though there are fireworks to spare in the Fantasy's finale.

The First Concerto is also well played, the Adagio full of feeling, and although Ion Marin conducts an imaginative orchestral accompaniment (with some unusual dynamic underlining), the soft-grained Bamberg Symphony occasionally wants for impact. So an enjoyable programme but, given the number of highly recommendable rivals in this repertoire (too many to list comprehensively), not a terribly competitive one.

Turn then to Julia Fischer and the difference is like switching from ashy chamber player reluctantly taking the limelight to a star act on a high. And by saying that I am not suggesting either that Braunstein is are luctant soloist or that Fischer is in any way brash or 'flashy' (quite the reverse, in fact), just that her bright, attenuated sound, vibrantly expressive but never overbearing, makes more of an immediate impression. What I will say is that David Zinman's Zurich accompaniment scores a notch or two higher than Marin's, being both more keenly focused and more securely played. …

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