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Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Complete Violin Concertos
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Op. 20 [11:40]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in C Op. 58 [28:08]
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor Op. 61 [27:33]
La Muse et le Poète Op. 132 [15:30]
Valse-caprice [7:09]
Romance in C Op. 48 [6:46]
Romance in D flat Op. 37 [5:51]
Havanaise in E Op. 83 [9:39]
Morceau de concert in G Op. 62 [9:38]
Introduction et Rondo capriccioso in A minor Op. 28 [8:54]
Caprice Andalou in G Op. 122 [9:17]
Prélude du Déluge in D Op 45 [7:23]
Ulf Hoelscher (violin); Ralph Kirshbaum (cello)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Pierre Dervaux
rec. Abbey Road Studios, London, 23-24 March, 4-7 April 1977. ADD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94308 [76:10 + 73:31]

Experience Classicsonline

It is a real pleasure to listen to the music of such a thoroughly professional composer as Saint-Saëns. Even when he is saying nothing very new or very profound the sheer craftsmanship and physical beauty of the music is very satisfying. Everything on this delightful set is worth hearing at least once, and most of it is a great deal better than that. Although the Concerto No. 3 is the only one to retain a place in the regular repertoire, albeit somewhat precariously, the others are at least as good. Indeed the first Concerto, which dates from 1859, some twenty years before the others, is in many ways the most immediately attractive. Its comparative brevity is a positive virtue in its avoidance of padding of any kind. All three are packed with opportunities for the soloist to show his or her abilities. Fortunately Ulf Hoelscher has the technique and artistry to take full advantage of this in terms of bravura display and, even better, in the soft and gentle sections. Admittedly he is not helped in this by an unnaturally forward balance. This means that at times some of the composer’s delightfully detailed scoring is lost, but this is to nitpick when the overall quality of the playing is so high.
It is however the music even more than the playing which makes this an irresistible set. In addition to the three Concertos no fewer than nine shorter pieces featuring a solo violin are included. Only the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and Havanaise can be said to be well known but all are worth hearing in their different ways. My own favourites are the two Romances, maybe too sugary for some but beautifully crafted and thoroughly memorable.
These two discs have previously been issued by Brilliant as part of a bigger set devoted to this composer (review) and also several times by EMI Classics (review).
The two discs are well filled and have brief notes that are anomymous but interesting. Under these circumstances the general question of balance between soloist and orchestra is only a small blot on this otherwise admirable set. It would be a pity to deprive yourself of the considerable pleasure of these discs on that ground alone. All in all, yet another winner from Brilliant’s constantly satisfying series of reissues. 

John Sheppard



































































































































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