Violin Sonata No. 1; Cello Sonata No. 1; Piano Trio No. 2
Renaud Capuçon (violin), Edgar Moreau (cello), Bertrand Chamayou (piano)
Erato 9029516710 75:51 mins
My only serious complaint over this disc is with the pianist Bertrand Chamayou’s claim that the three works on it are ‘rarely performed and recorded’: as to performances, I cannot say, but of these works altogether, available recordings already number 84. That said, in my view there is always room for more Saint-Saëns, especially in this centenary year of his death, and more especially when it’s played with such technical skill and intelligence.
One of the crucial features of all three works is a contrast between light and heavy, neither of them ever given their head for too long. Obviously in this respect the piano possesses a wider range than the two string instruments, and Chamayou takes splendid advantage of this with pearly, unpedalled fingerwork at one extreme and powerful oratory at the other. Praise be, there are no curious distortions of rhythm: we are given what the composer wrote and, if there are occasional touches of rubato, they unerringly take their raison d’être from the discourse, allowing the music to breathe.
Among many delights, I noted the return to the opening in the third movement of the Violin Sonata which beautifully manages the link that teeters between the obvious and the bizarre, and a similarly happy way with the strange modulations in the third movement of the Trio – such surprises in all three works being more striking for the music’s generally good melodic and harmonic behaviour. To end the disc, there’s stunning counterpoint in the Trio’s finale, magisterially delivered.