Émile SAURET (1852–1920)
Music for Violin and Piano
Scènes villageoises, Op. 50 (Le matin; Pastorale; Vieille chanson; Danse) (1895) [14:46]
Souvenir de Los Angeles, Op. 11 (1875?) [8:31]
Souvenirs d’Orient, Op. 63 (Souvenir de Constantinople; Danse; Ronde; La Revue; Gondoliera; A Péra) [26:10]
Farfalla, Op. 40, No. 3 [7:10]
Scherzo fantastique op. 9 (1880?) [11:02]
Michi Wiancko (violin); Dina Vainshtein (piano)
rec. Glenn Gould Studio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto, Canada, 1-2 June 2009.
NAXOS 8.572366 [67:30]

Five works for violin and piano by French composer Emile Sauret who studied with grand tradition violinists Henri Vieuxtemps and Charles de Bériot. As we learn from Caroline Waight’s indispensable liner-notes, Sauret was part of the musical aristocracy of his age. Liszt performed sonatas with him. In 1873 he married the Venezuelan pianist and composer, Teresa Carreño (1853-1917) but their marriage foundered after a couple of years. His American debut came in 1872 – but he returned there many times – witness his Souvenir de Los Angeles. In 1890 he was appointed a professor of violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. There he numbered among his pupils Tor Aulin, William Henry Reed and John Waterhouse. He lived in London during his waning years, dying there on 12 February 1920.

Sauret wrote more than one hundred violin pieces including a cadenza for the first movement of Paganini's First Violin Concerto. A globe-trotting child prodigy he had his own musical ideas even if they are not devastatingly original - originality has been over-praised anyway. For Sauret melody and sentimentality were the watchwords and there were no blushes about the combination. His four movement Scènes Villageoises is ripe, lissom and glowingly sentimental. A folksy element - at least as percolated through Brahms - only surfaces in the Danse last movement. The Souvenir de Los Angeles is staunchly European – not a trace of anything specifically American – indeed it might be by some hybrid of Paganini and Saint-Saens. Souvenirs d’Orient is gracious and brilliant, proud yet not specially ethnic. Nothing like the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole or Saint-Saens Havanaise when to comes to local colour. Farfalla (Butterfly) is another faintly Tchaikovskian turbo-charged fairy-flight. It would serve well alongside traditional display pieces by Dinicu, Bazzini or Monti. Much the same can be said of the slightly more extended Scherzo fantastique. While hardly profound statements neither are these vapid effusions.

The music is powerfully recorded with a big upfront sound. Wiancko's violin is grainy and in your face with a nice slippery texture. Both musicians are admirable and indeed impressive interpreters.

Rob Barnett

While hardly profound statements neither are these vapid effusions.