Bruch’s reputation was dealt a blow during the Nazi period as the dopey fascists thought that, as a result of his fine cello work, Kol Nidrei, he was probably a Jew and consequently banned his music. It took a long time for it to be returned to favour.
The Scottish Fantasy is among his most popular works, and deservedly so. The mordant opening doesn’t promise much, but the violin soon emerges in a series of ruminative phrases and beguiling sea surges from which the fine melody (for which the work is famous) develops. The Adagio is gorgeous and the five-movement fantasia finishes with a robust swirl of the kilts.
His third violin concerto is rarely played and it’s not hard to see why. Although professionally written, it seems to have little appeal and cannot hold a candle to the popular First Concerto. The final movement is the strongest, with many attractive phrases reminding us of his better works. At the risk of seeming a smart-Alec, it may have helped had he included some Scottish folk tunes. Nonetheless, Bruch considered it his best concerto and who am I to argue? He might have coined the phrase: ‘A poor thing but mine own.’
However, as a believer that all works by distinguished composers deserve at least one good recording, here it is. Jack Liebeck and the Scots orchestra under the splendid Martyn Brabbins do the piece proud.