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Saint-Saëns: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 3

Jinjoo Cho (violin); Appassionato/Mathieu Herzog (Naïve)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
V7422_Saens

Saint-Saëns
Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 3;
Introduction & Rondo capriccioso; Havanaise; Romance in C; Samson et Dalila – Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix
Jinjoo Cho (violin); Appassionato/Mathieu Herzog
Naïve V7422   77:06 mins

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Released just in the nick of time for the 2021 Saint-Saëns anniversary, this recording of violin works comes from North America-based Korean violinist Jinjoo Cho and French conductor, and sometime Quatuor Ébène co-founder Mathieu Herzog with his chamber orchestra, Appassionato. Cho, who herself founded a festival for young chamber musicians, here bookends the composer’s first and third violin concertos – the latter one of his great works – with well known shorter pieces.

Cho has a highly polished, sustained tone and much expression, too, with clean articulation and charisma in her playing in Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. There is a sweet-toned and tender Havanaise, too, before the first programmed of the Violin Concertos – here, the Third – and Saint-Saëns’s best known. If Cho’s sound is perhaps a little too civilised in the opening of the Allegro – and Appassionato – Cho finds the exquisiteness in the Andantino.

The much shorter Violin Concerto No. 1 follows, just 12 minutes long, a playing with form that sees a run-through Allegro enclosing an Andante, filled with intensity. Cho charts it all effortlessly, along with a heartfelt adaptation by Herzog of the aria ‘Mon cœur s’ouvre a ta voix’ from the composer’s opera, Samson and Delila, for violin and orchestra. The CD liner notes contain no information on the works.

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Sarah Urwin Jones