Milhaud, Saint-Sa‘ns, Berlioz, Ravel, Massenet

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz,Massenet,Milhaud,Ravel,Saint-Sa‘ns
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Renaud Capuçon (violin); Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45482 2
Massenet’s ‘Méditation’ from Thaïs and Saint-Saëns Introduction et rondo capriccioso: at first glance this is simply a collection of violin lollipops, albeit with a French flavour. Indeed, it is strangely heartwarming to find that record companies still encourage rising stars such as Renaud Capuçon to make such discs. While remaining firmly populist in flavour, the music on closer acquaintance reveals that it comprises a superior example of the breed. Four of the eight works are by Saint-Saëns, giving the programme an element of exploring repertoire with some kind of logic, rather than being a random collection of bonbons. The fireworks of Ravel’s Tzigane and the more sublime Rêverie et caprice of Berlioz fit seamlessly into this programme and the inclusion of Danse macabre is inspired, although the frenetic pace at the opening leaves nowhere to go at the end. Milhaud’s arrangement for violin and orchestra of Le boeuf sur le toit, complete with fiendish cadenza by Honegger, sits a little awkwardly at the end of the programme, but sounds better here than in rival versions. Throughout, Capuçon exquisitely slips from silken tones to gritty determination and back as the music demands. Most importantly, he and Daniel Harding are patently having immense fun. Christopher Dingle

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