I remember the first time I hard the music of Saint-Saens was on the radio when one of one of his Cello concertos was playing. I was young then so my interests were in virtuoso music and fast playing. I listened to Paganini alot and started to look for other music equally interesting. I heard the brilliance of Paganini that day on the radio and from that day on, I was a huge fan of Saint-Saens. Even today I prefer his music even to Beethoven and Mozart.
Later on I discovered the Saint-Saens Introduction/Rondo Capriccio, violin sonatas, and violin concerto 3 as well as the piano concertos: all unbelievably brilliant beyond words.
This CD is no exception whatsoever. Like the violin/piano sonatas, the music here is equally interesting for both the violinist and the pianist. The role of the piano is equally important and does not assume the mere role of accompanist. This music is so intense you will will have no choice but to be stunned and amazed at the landscapes and thunder this music invokes.
The most interesting thing about this CD is that Saint-Saens did some transcriptions of Chopin for violin and piano. This is the holy grail for me, to hear Chopin played on violin since Chopin is my favorite composer and the violin is my favorite instrument.
I find it interesting that Saint-Saens took the time to transcribe for the violin when we all know he was a pianist and must have been uncontent playing the pieces as solo piano. He must have felt that the sensitivity of the melodies would be best expressed through the violin. The way you can shape a few notes allows for more emotion and warmth and it is great to hear these complex and dynamic moods come out, resulting in a more dynamic and emotional performance and feeling to the music.
I am in absolute heaven when I hear the Ballade played on violin because the 4 Ballades are easily some of the greatest pieces ever written. Such a pure and lyrical melody that is sure to capture the heart of any listener. Thank God Ysaye transcribed this. Let all violinists continue to transcribe the great piano literature for violin and piano, especially the music of Chopin who is the very voice of God!
My only complaint is the performance is somewhat sluggish, violinist Philippe Graffin has a good tone, good not great. His phrasing and slides art artistic and vibrato is warm emotional and expressive. His intonation is good and he plays well but the coordination between the two isn't completely desirable.
Considering the level of difficulty and the rareness of the transcriptions, I have no idea why any serious music listener or musician could not get this, especially if you are craving more Chopin played on violin like I was. What a treasure to hear my favorite music played with the voice of the violin, how every phrase can be shaped, so beautiful and wonderful to me that this recording is completely priceless, I can only describe such musical architecture as the voice of God because that is how pure the music is. God truly spok through the hands and pen of the great Chopin who never ceases to maze me by his dynamic extremes of tenderness changing into turbulence, such incredible emotion and expression and drama in his music!
4-1/2 stars because it could be played better...