Click the links below to hear the movements in the suite.
Max Bruch (1838-1920) was a German Romantic composer, conductor and teacher. A child prodigy, he composed his first pieces at the age of nine, and went on to hold musical posts in Mannheim, Berlin and Bonn. He also spent three seasons as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. In his lifetime he was known mostly as a choral composer, but it is for his first violin concerto that he is chiefly remembered now. These dances were first published in 1892 for violin and piano, although Bruch later arranged them for solo piano, and also for orchestra. The slow, stately introduction leads in to seven dances in volume one, each a charming character study. Individual movements are dramatic, then tranquil; dance-like then reflective. The third, fifth and seventh movements have the feeling of folk-dances, while the others are more lyrical and expressive. Structurally the pieces are fairly simple, with melody sections flowing in to each other. Some ideas are developed into links and codas. In this arrangement, both solo players share the melodic material fairly evenly. Each has a solo movement to play, with the other movements featuring call and answer moments, harmony sections and contrapuntal elements to enjoy. Technically quite advanced, with the music covering the whole range of the instrument, these gems of pieces are well worth working on.