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Two favourites and a rarity, beautifully played,
This review is from: La Muse et le Poete (Audio CD)
Violinist Renaud CapuÁon and his cellist brother Gautier are joined here for an all Saint-SaŽns programme by the young French conductor Lionel Bringuier and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. They are all evidently all fine musicians and cannot be faulted in matters of taste and technique.
Many collectors will already own the two concertos here but are less likely to know the rarely heard piece which lends its title to this disc, the `Duet for Violin, Cello and Orchestra', La Muse et le Poète. Saint-SaŽns composed it while in Egypt; it is a sweetly plaintive, gently Romantic and sometimes even rhapsodic but not especially memorable work. At first, the two solo instruments call to and answer each other in figures built around falling fifths and octaves, accompanied by strumming harps and pizzicato strings; the violin seems to be coaxing the cello into more elaborate excursions upwards and perhaps as such acts as the Muse to the cello's Poet. There follows an impassioned middle section for the cello before first the violin, then the cello, muse reflectively until the music works itself up into an energetic finale.
The Violin Concerto, Saint-SaŽns' third, opens with an arresting, sweeping theme which is generously shaped by brother Renaud; the Andante sings and the faintly conventional but, as ever with Saint-SaŽns, well-crafted finale is taut and elegant. The main ideas in the Cello Concerto are once more derived from exploiting the interval of a fifth, first fast, then reflective; Gautier CapuÁon's warm tone and his deft, delicate bowing make the most of the old-fashioned minuet in the slow movement, then he broadens and intensifies his manner to encompass the demands of the big, bold finale.
My comparison for the two concertos was with the Sony compilation recording featuring soloists Yo-Yo Ma and Cho-Liang Lin; I found them both to be more febrile and individualistic than their CapuÁon counterparts who are typically Gallic in their refinement and of course served by better, more modern digital sound.
This is a fine disc neatly combining first class performances of two deservedly acclaimed concertos with a rarity.
[Review also posted on MusicWeb International.]