The Guardian - Dec 2016
Max Bruch’s Second Violin Concerto has had a rough deal from posterity. In many ways it’s a much more distinctive and personal work than his enduringly popular First Concerto, much less in awe of Brahms’s example, though maybe its sometimes ominous introspection has counted against it achieving the same popularity. Apparently the concerto follows a scenario – something to do with a battle during the Spanish Carlist wars – that Pablo de Sarasate, for whom it was written in 1877, insisted that Bruch follow, but as Jack Liebeck’s nicely restrained performance shows, it’s a piece that’s perfectly capable of standing on its own musical feet. His fine-grained playing gets exemplary support from Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who never overdo the menace that underlies the first movement especially. The F sharp minor Konzertstück and another minor-key piece, In Memoriam, which Bruch composed for Joseph Joachim in 1893, make substantial fill-ups; both are brought off with perfect tact by Liebeck.