There is perhaps no more soaringly romantic entry in the violin repertoire than Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy. Composed in 1880, the work consists of four movements for violin and orchestra and is based on Scottish folk themes that excite all of the emotions, from the aching lament of the opening adagio, which sounds like a long cry and recalls the composer's Kol Nidre, to the gleeful scherzo and the triumphant "Allegro guerriero" finale, which invariably incites audiences to wild bravos. Ironically, the German/Jewish Bruch didn't know Scotland from schmaltz, having never been there, so this work is indeed a fantasy based on his idea of what the country and its music were like. As a result, orchestra harpists love the work because Bruch thought Celtic music was synonymous with that instrument and gave it prominence. This week you can hear the Scottish Fantasy performed by the inimitable Joshua Bell at the Hollywood Bowl's Classical Thursdays: Bell Plays Bruch . The great Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, still going strong at 77, leads the L.A. Phil in the program, which also includes Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 1, aptly nicknamed "Titan."
Thu., July 15, 2010