Camille Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy, who amazed both Berlioz and Liszt with his extraordinary talent for performance (as a virtuoso pianist) and composition. His Symphony No.1 in A was performed when he was just 15 years old, and was followed by a succession of beautifully crafted works in all genres – concertos (5 for piano, 3 for violin and 2 for cello) and a total of five symphonies, plus a large chamber and operatic output. All his works reveal a cast-iron grip of classical form and balance, while his orchestration displays clarity and colour. His approach to the concerto, whether for his own instrument or the violin or cello, was often innovative and always idiomatic.
The earliest of the Violin Concertos is the little known No.2 from 1858, influenced by Mendelssohn’s famous concerto for the same instrument, with a fully written out candenza that, beginning with the timpani, gradually brings the full orchestra back into play. The Violin Concerto No.1 was the next to follow, a short elegant work of just over 17 minutes, composed for the 15-year-old virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. The Spanish violinist was also the dedicatee of the 3rd and most famous of the concertos - full of wonderful tunes, drama and passion, this is one of the great concertos of the violin repertoire.
This 2CD release contains the three concertos, as well as all of the composer’s other works for violin and orchestra. The famous Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and the mini concerto for violin, cello (with Ralph Kirschbaum) and orchestra La Muse et la Poete are featured, along with lesserknown works including the unfinished 4th Concerto’s opening movement Morceau de concert, which is comparable to the Symphony No.3 in the strength and brilliance of its melodies.
“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...
It is however the music even more than the playing which makes this an irresistible set...yet another winner from Brilliant’s constantly satisfying series of reissues.” MusicWeb International, August 2012