Pierre De Bréville (1861-1949) is not particularly well represented on disc, yet his music - as evidenced by his first violin sonata - would be well worth looking into in more detail (there are some operas and orchestral works in addition to a substantial amount of chamber music, especially for violin and piano). While it would perhaps be an exaggeration to call the first sonata a staggering masterpiece (though if someone else claimed that it was I wouldn't dispute it) it is nevertheless very rewarding. The themes are memorable, and they are developed with skill and ingenuity in a late romantic, harmonically replete style with plenty of color and atmosphere. It is very "Gallic" in character, and owes quite a bit to Franck and Fauré (yet the music is far from anonymous); it is also a pretty ambitious work, but Bréville's expert use of light and shade and its deftly drawn long, dramatic lines ensure that nothing outstays its welcome; this is something of a find, in other words.
Canteloube is of course far better known through his "Songs of the Auvergne", and I suspect many have wondered what the rest of his music would sound like if it were ever performed (the operas and orchestral works, for instance). Well, I have to admit that I was a little surprised by how similar in atmosphere, harmonic language and melodic sense his "Dans le montagne" actually is. It is, quite simply, a lovely work of beautifully wistful melodies, breathtaking landscapes and viscerally evocative atmospheres, soaring themes, and airy harmonies - this is music cool winds, fragrant scents and aching nostalgia. Yes, it doesn't even try to avoid sentimentality, but the results are gorgeous.
Philippe Graffin is a marvelous soloist; he plays with plenty of power and gusto in the Breville sonata, yet manages to realize the many subtle shadings to what I would consider perfection. In the Canteloube his tone is sweet and warm (and exuberant in the final movement), yet he carefully avoids oversugaring the music, instead realizing the vivid evocations of the music by exploiting a huge range of colors, wonderful phrasing and singing melodic lines. Pascal Devoyon is an ideal partner; his playing is superb in itself with its great expressive range from glittering brilliance through smoldering fire to poetic warmth, yet he also uses it to comment upon and bolster Graffin's lines to splendid effect. The recording is excellently balanced to boost. In short, the Bréville is a magnificent work that deserves every success, and the Canteloube is a gorgeous, wonderfully atmospheric work (too sugary for some perhaps, but those who enjoy the Auvergne songs will love it), and they are both immaculately played. A strongly recommended release.