Fridrich Bruk is a prolific and wide-ranging composer. His output consists of film and theatre music, tangos and other popular songs, chamber music, choral music, children’s music, instrumental music – and 18 symphonies to date. Toccata Classics’s recording from 2018 features the latest two of them.
Symphony No. 17, with the subheading “Joy of Life”, is as much a piano concerto as a symphony. The three parts also represent a sort of abstract autobiographical programme: I: Attempts, II: Sorrow, and III: Strength. These subtitles describe the atmosphere created by Bruk’s music, with roots in the tradition of Russian colourful orchestral music.
“Daugavpils”, the subtitle of the 18th symphony, refers to a Latvian city where Bruk’s father and grandparents were exiled from in 1915. According to the CD booklet, the 18th symphony is based on this loss of home and homeland. The sometimes rhapsodic course of music has the undercurrent of longing and melancholy. The Latvian kantele-like instrument kokle brings a refreshing twist to the sound palette.
The Liepāja Symphony Orchestra and both soloists, pianist Gertruda Jerjomenko and kokle player Anda Eglīte perform laudably. A special thanks has to be given for the thorough and in-depth booklet texts.
BRUK: Orchestral music, volume one
Symphony No. 17, Joy of Life
Symphony No. 18 Daugavpils
Gertruda Jerjomenko, piano
Anda Eglīte, kokle
Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, cond. Māris Kupčs
Toccata Classics TOCC 0455