Saint-Sa‘ns, Lalo, Chausson, Kreisler, Berlioz & Ravel

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz & Ravel,Chausson,Kreisler,Lalo,Saint-Sa‘ns
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; Havanaise; Poeme; Guitare
PERFORMER: Akiko Suwanai (violin); Philharmonia Orchestra/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 475 6189
The first solo entry in the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso tells you exactly what to expect – technical assurance, coupled with a slightly wiry tone and a rather self-conscious approach to rubato. There’s a great deal more charm to the slow Introduction than Akiko Suwanai finds, and the fireworks of the Rondo aren’t capricious or rhythmically controlled enough. It’s the same story in the Havanaise, where the lack of an extended tonal palette also makes itself plain, and in Lalo’s potentially charming Guitare, where the rhythmic looseness infects the orchestra as well.Charles Dutoit sets a good mood in the orchestral introduction to Chausson’s Poème, but Suwanai takes her first solo passage very literally – missing the hushed mystery of Repin (Erato), or the contained intensity of the young Menuhin (Biddulph). She does find more involvement later, with greater flexibility of line and more tonal variety, but not enough to dispel the initial impression. The more classical lines of Berlioz’s Rêverie et Caprice suit her better, but the big surprise is the opening of Ravel’s Tzigane, where, compared with what’s gone before, there’s suddenly some fire in the belly. The recording is vivid throughout – a pity that the playing approaches the same level only at the final fence. Martin Cotton