Max Bruch

Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Nationality: German
Born: January 6, 1838, Cologne Died: October 2, 1920, Berlin (age 82)

[8] Eight Pieces [Acht Stücke], Op. 83 (for clarinet, viola and piano)

(for clarinet, viola and piano)
4:01 I. Andante
2:23 II. Allegro con moto
7:20 III. Andante con moto
3:26 IV. Allegro agitato
5:37 V. Rumänische Melodie. Andante
6:07 VI. Nachtgesang. Andante con moto
3:31 VII. Allegro vivace, ma non troppo
5:17 VIII. Moderato
Duration: 38 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1910 (age 71-72)
Published: 1910, Berlin: N. Simrock (age 71-72)
3 recordings, 18 videos
autoopen autoplay
15:01
Vardi, Weigand, Weinstock
(part 1 of 2)
18:31
Vardi, Weigand, Weinstock
(part 2 of 2)
4:18
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
I. Andante
1:58
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
II. Allegro con moto
7:43
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
III. Andante con moto
3:37
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
IV. Allegro agitato
5:58
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
V. Rumänische Melodie. Andante
6:10
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
VI. Nachtgesang. Andante con moto
3:53
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
VII. Allegro vivace, ma non troppo
4:53
Tudorache, Gridchouk, Riolo
VIII. Moderato
4:02
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
I. Andante
2:25
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
II. Allegro con moto
7:45
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
III. Andante con moto
3:18
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
IV. Allegro agitato
5:16
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
V. Rumänische Melodie. Andante
6:13
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
VI. Nachtgesang. Andante con moto
3:15
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
VII. Allegro vivace, ma non troppo
5:38
Meyer, Caussé, Duchable
VIII. Moderato
From Kai Christiansen

Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Eight Pieces, Op. 83, for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (1910)

Max Bruch The German composer Max Bruch was five years younger than Brahms, three years older than Dvořák, and his richly successful music in a late but “classical” Romantic style is clearly akin to the music of these more famous contemporaries. Despite a catalog of admirable works across all genres (opera, choral music, symphonies, concerti, and chamber music), Bruch is today remembered primarily for his gorgeous and immensely popular Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26 (1866) and perhaps the Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, for Cello and Orchestra (1880). During his lifetime, Bruch was known mostly as a composer of choral music and for his decades of service as musical director, conductor and composition teacher. He lived well beyond both Brahms and Dvořák through the end of WWI at which time his music was regarded as conservative if not “suddenly” old-fashioned with its 19th century aesthetic compared with the expressionist, atonal and Dadaist tendencies of the modernist 20’s. After his death, during the Nazi Regime, Bruch’s music was banned due to his questionable association with such topics as the Jewish Kol Nidrei. His music disappeared. Looking backward from the long view of the 20th century, it would seem that Bruch, a late master of a style he did not innovate, simply becomes parenthetical in a dense, condensed history.

While much of Bruch is worth rediscovery, his chamber music is particularly so. He wrote a sextet, a piano trio, two string quartets, three string quintets and a late string octet, all of it engaging, rich and skillfully formed: a secret trove of beautiful music in the grand style. But his most well-known chamber work is the eminently worthy collection of Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, op. 83 of 1910. Bruch composed them for his twenty-five-year-old son, Max Felix, who was just beginning his career as a professional clarinetist at the time. It would seem that several aspects combine to grace this work with intimate significance: the musical inspiration of Bruch’s own son, the special character of the clarinet, the “halo” of historical trios from Brahms and Mozart, Bruch’s own advanced, fragile age, and, finally, the very twilight of a Romantic style that would soon be banished to a lost epic of the past.

Although they comprise a collection of individual, short “miniatures”, Bruch’s pieces are much more than brief character sketches for the salon: They are beautifully scored chamber trios with lyrical melodies, romantic harmonies and articulated forms full of passionate expression and elegant design. While Bruch inevitably evokes Brahms, one also hears ample reflections of Schumann, Schubert and Beethoven and a clear, ripe tradition of German Romanticism. Commentators often point out the predominance of minor keys yet many of the pieces eventually transform their initial melancholy into a kind of resolved, illuminated nobility. Along with a variety of mood and tempo, the music offers a fluid variety of scoring featuring each of the three instruments in the strong relief of intimately interactive chamber textures. A year later, Bruch would pursue these unique sonorities with another work for his son, the Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 88 of 1911.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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