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Rare French works for violin and orchestra
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 14 (1878-80) [15:46]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Morceau de concert, Op 62 (1880) [10:27]
Édouard LALO (1823-1892)
Fantaisie norvégienne (1878) [14:01]
Ernest GUIRAUD (1837-1892)
Caprice (1884) [11:48]
Édouard LALO (1823-1892)
Guitarre, Op 28 (arr. Gabriel Pierné) [3:40]
Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957)
Poème (1918, 1937–8) [15:29]
Philippe Graffin (violin)
Ulster Orchestra/Thierry Fischer
rec. June 2001, Ulster Hall, Belfast, United Kingdom
First released in March 2002 as CDA67294

Experience Classicsonline

Helios is Hyperion’s bargain range re-issue marque. It’s the place to go for a deeply upholstered catalogue of exceptional quality classical CDs. There are more every month and Hyperion do not complicate the picture with different reissue series (aopart from their Dyad two CD series): it’s Helios and that’s it – no sub-labels and no intermediate pricing. Worth keeping an eye on Hyperion’s ‘Please someone buy me’ page where a constantly changing shop window of premium CDA series discs are sold for £5.60.

The present French collection is delectable if you have already been won over by say Saint-Saens’ Havanaise. Fauré’s single movement Concerto is a dramatic construct rather in the dramaturgical, showy-substantial and sweetly singing line reflected in Saint-Saëns’ three concertos – also recorded by Graffin - and the concertos by Tchaikovsky, de Boeck and Karlowicz. Not to be missed but you must not expect this to be the highly cultured Fauré. The concerto was first recorded in 1991 by Rodolfo Bonucci in Mexico City for ASV (CD DCA686). It also turned up much more recently played by Jean-Marc Philips-Varjabédian as part of a Timpani collection of all Fauré’s concertante works (1C1172). Saint-Saëns's Morceau de concert began life as the first movement of his Third Violin Concerto but was discarded. Not sure why; it’s certainly pari passu with the other Saint-Saens’ single movement violin pieces and is as much a discovered delight as the Caprice Andalou.

The Lalo Fantaisie norvégienne is another sweetly nationalistic essay – this time in three movements. The material is tangily flavoured with mannerisms we associate with Norwegian folk music. It’s three succinct movements are concentrated tone poems with breathily romantic nationalism very much the order of the day. Think in terms of a shorter Symphonie espagnole but with Norway as the focus – just as succulent. There’s also a purely orchestral Rhapsodie Norvégienne by Lalo. Lalo also wrote similarly nationalistic concertante pieces in a related idiom with Spain and Russia as their locales. M. Graffin’s notes tell us that Sarasate premiered the piece on 1 December 1878 with Max Bruch conducting and that this in turn inspired Bruch to write his Scottish Fantaisie – a work I have never been able to get on with.

The two movement Guiraud Caprice is darker and more confiding yet still out of the high romantic. It was dedicated to Sarasate and modelled on the bipartite Saint-Saëns’ work, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. It’s a smoothly resolved piece and passionate too - aided by Graffin’s pure yet fervent line and some nicely rasping work from the Ulster Orchestra brass. The violin whistles high in the lark-haunted firmament in the second of the two movements – a sort of 19th century counterpart to Sibelius’s Humoresques. Guiraud’s grand operatic credentials show in the final pages.

The Lalo-Pierné Guitarre is another toothsome brevity – the shortest here at less than four minutes. It has a faintly Spanish accent. The Canteloube Poème is from another later era. It has a deeper vein of melancholia and some countryside impressionistic moments – perhaps a little like Julius Harrison’s Bredon Hill (Dutton and Lyrita). It was written just after the Great War and revised within months of the start of the Second World War. I must not leave the impression that it is completely unrelated to the other works on the disc. It represents a sort of green fusion between the sweetly romantic effusions of the late-nineteenth century and the more freshly knowing Delian invention you hear in Canteloube’s luminous orchestral re-workings of the Chants de l’Auvergne. There are some almost rapturously glowing Straussian moments along the way. Do not forget Graffin’s other Hyperion Canteloube recording.

Lavish deep-pile rarities from the long-sustained Gallic-romantic sunset.

Rob Barnett





































































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