To those of us brought up on the famous Menuhin LP of the Mendelssohn E minor and Bruch G minor concertos, comparisons between the two composers are inevitable. Bruch’s heritage creates a direct link, but his music is a more passionate Romanticism, counterpoised here (especially in the Third Concerto) by masterly orchestration and a truly symphonic bearing. That we associate such traits with a powerful violin sound (with lots of vibrato) is a matter of what we’ve become used to, and this disc follows the expected formula. Maxim Fedotov delivers a committed sound very much in the Russian tradition, although his vibrato on the E string can be rather wearing, spoiling the more delicate moments of the slow movement of the Third Concerto in particular.
This is a valuable disc in many ways. In terms of repertoire, it reminds us that the concertos are interesting and should be better known – the Second is the more concentrated, the Third the more expansive, and although they both have notable similarities with the G minor First Concerto at various points, they are nonetheless fully independent works of considerable merit. The recording is very clean and the orchestral playing excellent. If you like 19th-century Romanticism served in the ‘steel glove’ of modern virtuosity, you will enjoy this disc.
From the September 2009 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.