Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor; Violin Sonata No. 2 in E flat; Triptyque, Op. 136; Élégies, Opp. 143 & 160; Berceuse, Op. 38

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COMPOSERS: Saint-Sa‘ns
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor; Violin Sonata No. 2 in E flat; Triptyque, Op. 136; Élégies, Opp. 143 & 160; Berceuse, Op. 38
PERFORMER: Philippe Graffin (violin), Pascal Devoyon (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67100
There is much more to Saint-Saëns than Danse macabre, Carnival of the Animals and the Organ Symphony. His output contains many delights for those who want to explore beyond the mainstays of the repertoire. Young virtuosi should be encouraged to try the First Violin Sonata (1885) as an alternative to Franck’s Sonata of a year later which all but steals the best ideas from the Saint-Saëns. Doubters only need to listen to this wonderful new disc from Philippe Graffin and Pascal Devoyon. From the turbulent emotions of the opening to the furiously driven moto perpetuo of the ultimately triumphant conclusion, they hold the listener spellbound.

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The passionate Romanticism of the First Sonata is balanced by the charming, quasi-Classical clarity of the more playful Second. There is no doubt about the sheer pleasure which Graffin and Devoyon find in this music, with a performance exuding a wit and heartwarming intimacy that also extend to the smaller works. Following hot on the heels of Graffin’s excellent account of the violin concertos, and co-released with an exquisite disc of cello works, Hyperion has done much for the cause of Saint-Saëns. Is a disc of the wind sonatas too much to ask? Strongly recommended. Christopher Dingle