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Franck / Saint-Saëns / Ravel: Violin Sonatas

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Performer: Lars Vogt, Sarah Chang
  • Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck, Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (1 Mar. 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0001E8C0A
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,718 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Allegretto Ben Moderato
  2. Allegro - Quasi lento - Tempo 1 - Poco piu lento - Animato poco a poco
  3. Recitativo - Fantasia: Ben moderato - Molto lento - A tempo moderato
  4. Allegretto Poco Mosso
  5. Allegro Agitato
  6. Adagio
  7. Allegretto Moderato
  8. Allegro Molto
  9. Allegretto - Andante
  10. Blues: Moderato
  11. Perpetuum Mobile: Allegro

Product Description

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is marvellous playing from both of these young performers. The Franck is alternately very beautiful, very controlled, and really fiery and passionate. The attractive but lesser-known Saint-Saens Sonata, new to me, gets a committed performance which grows in strength as it goes on (as, I think, the music does too). I am very fond of the quirky Ravel Sonata and I think this is marginally less excellent than the other two here - the players are not quite so far into the idiom as with Franck and Saint-Saens - but having said that all three performances are quite unlike studio takes, they are very alive and committed and involving. I recommend the CD warmly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8ebbf318) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ebec9d8) out of 5 stars Music reminiscent of things past 13 Jan. 2006
By David H. Spence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Without squarely being idiomatic within the French tradition, Sarah Chang and Lars Vogt give a frequently illuminating recital of three sonatas here. The Franck Sonata in A is the most frequently recorded of the three sonatas on this program. Lars Vogt provides a very warm, atmospheric opening to the first movement, and breaks into a kind of reverie for lyrical outpourings several places to follow (including in the third movement), even catching Chang up in the fantasy of much of the writing. Only a little too much attention to nuance a couple of times, in weightier passages, impedes the line and thus sounds self-conscious.

Lars Vogt opens the difficult second movement poco marcato, and with excellent forward motion, but then half a minute in and also where this same passagework recapitulates four minutes later, listen to his shaping of sequential lines, into which he lets Chang tacitly wander in, yet without the least amount of strain toward being heard. The repeated note spiccato, approached without the least bit of hesitation and with piquant touch, Chang keeps seamless with the quiet closing theme interlude that has preceded it. Some playing at arguably at too soft a dynamic sounds a bit self-conscious a ways into the third movement, but Chang gives this music the big gesture early on, and Vogt's playing of the reprise of the opening of the sonata sounds truly impressionistic six minutes in.

No movement of any of the three sonatas on this disc is more effective than the finale to the Franck. For once, even after hearing Bell, Perlman (especially affected with Argerich), and Heifetz, the lyrical subject that opens this movement sounds entirely open and not the least bit affected. Vogt extends the time on quarter note octaves on reprise of the big passages from the movement before, to avoid playing with less than firm, fully rounded tone. No other version in stereo or digital of this entire sonata gives the listener a more natural perspective on this music, apart from the Philips with Artur Grumiaux and Gyorgy Sebok (paired with the two Faure sonatas, with J P Crossley at the keyboard). Shaham/Oppitz, paired with the Saint-Saens is a viable alternative, as is to some extent Perlman/Ashkenazy, and even perhaps the too closely recorded Chung/Lupu. Bell/Thibaudet, also on Decca, is dry, antiseptic and inadequately tuned from Joshua Bell at a few critical junctures in it. For historical, continue to rely on the Thibaud/Cortot on EMI.

On first listening, the music in the Saint-Saens D Minor Sonata, seems to succumb a bit to note-spinning. The two artists here, however, under closer scrutiny, sustain interest to the extent that nothing in this sonata, after repeated listening, seems to have been written in anything approaching gratuitous excess. Saint-Saens' deftly pointed manipulation of form is always ever clear, and at the same time, the insouciant charm of this music is never far away. Where Gil Shaham and Gerhard Oppitz (DGG) go for the surface brilliance of the last two movements. Vogt and Chang only fall for bombast right before the end of the finale, but moreover find a tone of introspection for the scherzo and Mendelssohnian play for the finale that elude Shaham and Oppitz. Some lovely arpeggi and mildly spectral sounding trills, to reintroduce the first theme of the adagio is especially compelling from Sarah Chang. This is a version of the Saint-Saens that, if it does not rise to definitive, is as close to getting there as possible without doing so. Five stars here.

Feeling for the Ravel is a little less intimate, confident, assured than for the Saint-Saens especially, but the command of line and colour, especially in passages where it counts, is always just as assured. The most important first movement is entirely very fine, very relaxed in passages with the most sparse writing, solo violin for several pages over moving around in simple perfect fifths from the keyboard. Vogt deftly makes chimes out of parallel major sevenths, whereas Chang in more dramatic rhetoric, cascades over repeated note tremoli, following a piano part that gradually recedes from a harmonically full and dissonantly colored climax. Once having diminished back to bare bones toward the end of this passage, the music leaves Chang's closing tremoli as played near the frog, with such a chill on them to sound practically animistic. For contrast, Chang immediately follows this, with a full-toned and from Vogt long cantabile line, into which she has unobtrusively just found or woven her way "Blues" starts off just about right, loose-limbed enough, if arguably the pizzicati toward the end from Chang are plucked just a little more aggressively than may need to be the case. The perpetuum mobile finale, the first fast movement in the piece, gets its due brilliance and in sharp relief, flashes of colour that early on directly remind of the finale of the G Major Piano Concerto. A passage of less intense repeated note tremoli from Chang is noteworthy and reminds the listener of similar that has occurred in the first movement.

The insightful liner notes make much of Proustian associations for especially the Franck and Saint-Saens, the Saint-Saens sonata in this context being as such to belong to, for playing it at least, Vinteuil, who plays violin in Remembrance of Things Past. The almost consistently poetic sense behind and intimate feeling that imbues so much playing on this disc, and with more detail than I can make note of here, reminisces of a better time past as well.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ebece34) out of 5 stars French or fussy? 1 Aug. 2005
By Jude Ziliak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Chang has never struck me as a particularly individual player, though she is often described as bold. Like the previous reviewer, I thought her Ravel and St-Saens were good, particularly the St-Saens. The Franck suffers from an excess of restraint that sometimes is effective, but elsewhere serves no good purpose and makes the music seem flabby. Canon though it be, the fourth movement of the Franck is not tightly constructed, and benefits from a gutsier approach, emphasizing the emotional rather than structural logic of the piece. All that said, Chang's tone is uncommonly sweet, and her St-Saens is perfectly judged.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef5aa74) out of 5 stars Franck/Saint-Saens/Ravel: Sonatas for Violin & Piano 15 Mar. 2005
By Javier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Sarah Chang's lyricism and command of the violin combined with french romantism worked beautifully in this cd.However with her Franck, i often feel that the piano on several ocassions overpowered the violin (especially the 4th movement) and Chang's rendition was rather weak sounding.In contrary, or amazingly, in the d-minor by saint saens, both of them worked wonderfully, were well balanced. Chang and her Del Gesu was the perfect combination for the saint saens.In the Ravel, i particularly enjoyed how Chang phrased his music. Despite the crazy compositon, everything was in place and neat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ec2830c) out of 5 stars Excellent performance - also available with 4 other Sarah Chang recordings in bargain box 11 Mar. 2014
By Phil (not) in Mågnoliá - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording of the Violin Sonatas composed by César Franck (1822-1890), Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) has Sarah Chang performing with Lars Vogt on piano, recorded in 2003. This particular recording is one that I especially wanted for my collection - it merits mention in the Penguin Guide for all three of the compositions, as a recommended recording for each. Penguin remarks that Chang and Vogt "make a winning combination". The Fanfare review gives high marks to the Franck performance, finding the Saint-Saens inferior to Jascha Heifetz's performance, with Joseph Szigeti preferred for the Ravel piece (to be fair, Penguin mentions neither in the listings of their 2008 guide, which leads me to conclude that those historic performances are more important to the real 'professional listener' than to the average music lover) I have less familiarity with these works than with any of the others in this collection, so my basis for comment is limited - I'll just say that they sound great to me.

I obtained this recording recently, packaged together with four other Sarah Chang CD's, as part of this bargain priced box -- Sarah Chang: 5 Classic Albums. That collection is priced similarly to this CD by itself, and for anyone considering purchasing this recording, it is obviously the better deal. The five CD's included in that collection are:

Disc 1: Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor; Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Disc 2: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Disc 3: Franck: Violin Sonata; Saint-Saens: Violin Sonata; Ravel: Violin Sonata
Disc 4: Dvorak: Violin Concerto; Piano Quintet
Disc 5: Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1

These are all excellent performances by Sarah Chang, worthwhile and in some cases highly recommended (see my comments to each release in my review of the 5 CD box). The only down-side to purchasing this recording as a part of that box, rather than as an individual release, is that the small booklet with liner notes that is included with this CD, is not included with the box set collection.

An excellent recording by Sarah Chang, and it is particularly nice to now have it available along with her other recordings in that bargain set.
HASH(0x8ec2854c) out of 5 stars Good performance, lousy recording and engineering. 3 Nov. 2013
By Cliff Schornak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The music for this CD is fine as are the performances. However the recording is terrible. The violin is so screechy as to be irritating for the Ravel piece. Track 11: "Violin Sonata: Perpetuum mobile - Allegro" starts buzzing with distortion at around 3:00 into the track. Stay away from this disk, it very poorly recorded. I am returning it.
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