Salvatore Accardo (violin), Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Kurt Masur
Philips "Duo" 462 164-2 (2 CDs)
While Max Reger was nourished by the works of Brahms and Bruckner, Max Bruch took his creative cues from Schumann and Mendelssohn. Bruch's Second Symphony was completed some years before Brahms's First and yet there's a weightiness to it, a jaw-clenching sense of purpose that's quite similar - especially in the first movement. It is a predominantly lyrical piece: the Adagio releases a gorgeous flood of sound, especially from the lower strings, with many piquant instrumental solos; and even the Allegro molto finale is softened by a qualifying "tranquillo". It's not great music, but it's certainly good enough to justify an occasional outing in the concert hall. If you enjoy it, then you'll probably appreciate the marginally less imposing First and Third Symphonies, though for my money Bruch's next-best works were for violin and Orchestra. Of the four included here, In Memoriam is perhaps the finest; it's easily as touching as the once- ubiquitous Kol Nidre, while the Konzertstuck - which makes a central feature of the Irish folk song "The Little Red Lark" - serves as a sort of "Irish Fantasy" to place beside the more familiar Scottish Fantasy that Accardo and Masur programme in their equally well-performed companion set of The Complete Bruch Violin Concertos (Philips "Duo" 462 167-2). Either collection should yield hours of pleasure, but the Second Symphony is a minor musical revelation. Furthermore, Philips do themselves an injustice by labelling the entire set "ADD": the three symphonies are in fact digital recordings, and they sound splendid.