This disc is a compilation of recording made in the early 1980s. All three recordings are admirably clear and well balanced and each of the three performances has the appropriate sparkle and good humour typical of the composer.
There is really very little to add to this review as Yo Yo Ma's performance of the cello concerto 1 has long been considered one of the very finest, good enough to be thought of as the reference performance by many. The same can be said of Cho-Liang Lin's performance of the 3rd violin concerto, easily the best of the composer's three violin concertos. Cecile Licad's performance of the popular 2nd piano concerto is in much the same class too. All three soloists are fully on top of the Saint Saens world of lyrical good humour and they all absolutely have that crucial 'lift' that turns good performances into special performances.
I instinctively recoil from suggesting that any disc may be definitive, a reference, the best etc. but in this case this coupling of three such fine performances seems almost too good to be true.
I would therefore suggest that this ideal coupling of Saint Saens' most popular concerto works all on one disc makes this an issue that deserves very special consideration from anyone contemplating purchasing any one or more of these very enjoyable works.
on 1 April 2014
One can get a bit tired of all the reissuing and repackaging of music on CD these days, but every now and again (as with DGG's decision to put Kleiber's Beethoven Fifth and Seventh on a single CD), they do something right. Sony got this one right. The music on this CD originally appeared on three CD's, each featuring one of the artists, and to bring them together to create a sampler of Saint-Saens concertos was a great idea. All are very fine performances, and the recorded sound is excellent. Cecile Licad, a Leventritt winner, isn't much heard of nowadays on major labels, but she is a fine pianist, and in Saint-Saens's most appealing piano concerto, she's up to the virtuoso demands. She is very well supported by Previn and the LPO. Maazel and the French National Orchestra accompany Yo-Yo Ma's typically refined and eloquent account of the Cello Concerto No. 1, and Tilson Thomas and the Philharmonia accompany Cho-Liang Lin in the Violin Concerto No. 3, an account that matches Perlman's on DGG but has better sound balance. I love them all, but perhaps Lin's performance is the one that I like best -- though that might be because I so admired his Sibelius/Nielsen disc. Over 70 minutes of music, and a lot of talent and variety. Strongly recommended.