While I have yet to see them, The Evanston Symphony Orchestra plays out of a venue on the campus of Northwestern University not too far from us Chicago north siders. I started to learn more about them as I began looking for local performances of violin concertos. Evanston’s 2013-2014 season features four concerts, and in May I think I’m going to try to join them as they play “The Three Bs,” with works by Barber, Beethoven, and Bruch. I like the diversity of the program – Barber will be good for me as I continue to expand my horizons toward the modern while not forcing me to expand them for the length of an entire concert. Beethoven’s contribution is Symphony No. 3, Eroica, which will be nice. And for me the main event will be the final “B” – Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.
I learned of Bruch’s masterpiece as I read Suzuki’s book Nurtured by Love. In it he recounts an evening when he played the Bruch Concerto during a high-society dinner party. Einstein was in attendance, as was another woman who was impressed with Suzuki’s rendering of “The German-ness of Bruch.”
I don’t know what that means – the “German-ness” of Bruch. It’s not something I know how to recognize. My heritage is German – one set of my paternal great grandparents emigrated from Germany – but aside from the language spoken by its composer I do not know what might make a violin concerto “German.” Consequently, I have no idea whether this performance, by the amazing Kyung Wha Chung in 1974, would meet with the old society woman’s approval. It meets with mine!
Thanks for reading.