Stories » Ray Chen and Joshua Bell both have new albums featuring Bruch's G minor concerto / Daily Mail

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Ray Chen and Joshua Bell both have new albums featuring Bruch's G minor concerto / Daily Mail

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I first encountered Bruch's G Minor Concerto when I was 13. I loved it then, and more than half a century on, I still do. It's a piece I never tire of; familiarity merely breeds an even deeper affection. There are so many recordings of it, who needs another one, let alone two? But when they are as good as these are, who's complaining?

Joshua Bell is not only a first-class virtuoso, but has arguably the most gorgeous tone of any active player. Here he directs the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which he's music director, in an in-your-face recording of Bruch: Scottish Fantasy on Sony that enlarges every opulent solo. Bell plays on a Stradivarius once owned by the mid-20th-century virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman. 

Ray Chen, of Chinese heritage, raised in Australia, goes one better, with a Strad once owned by Joseph Joachim, who gave the first performance of the revised version of this concerto which Joachim himself helped Bruch prepare. Chen is also a fine player, and his response to the concerto is measured, musical, and thoroughly satisfying. His recording - The Golden Age on Decca made with the London Philharmonic in Henry Wood Hall, has a much more natural concert-hall perspective, which some will undoubtedly prefer.

The choice between these two albums may well depend on the couplings. 

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