The Guardian 21/1/16
At the age of 30, Max Bruch wrote a violin concerto that would still be sitting at the top of radio listeners’ polls more than a century later; he spent the rest of his career trying to repeat the success, while kicking himself for selling the rights. Jack Liebeck pairs the familiar Concerto No 1 with two works for violin and orchestra that are similarly sumptuous, if less consistently inspired. The four-movement Serenade in A minor is patchy: a passage of sighing, soaring gloriousness emerges halfway through the second movement, only to be discarded for a relentlessly perky march, and the rhythmically repetitive finale would sound downright turgid under any conductor less dynamic than Martyn Brabbins. The 10-minute Romance in A minor is lovely, but easy to forget. Yet anyone who likes the familiar Bruch will enjoy this too, and Liebeck is a red-blooded, eloquent advocate throughout.