Aaron Rosand's CDs are always cheap - yet he's made some of the greatest recordings of standard literature, and often the ONLY recordings of non-standard literature. This disc is like a miniature treasure trove. It features the Saint Saens concerto #3 and the Lalo - and these two recordings are definitely among the aforementioned best out there. Rosand's sound is like that of a vintage bottle of wine. Although he never became a household name, his playing reveals a polished, refined quality that lends itself especially well to romantic works such as these.
His approach brings out all the sparkling Spanishness of the Lalo. The Saint Saens has many pleasing moments; to mention just one, the section of that closes the second movement is perfectly-paced and the harmonics are crystal clear. So many recordings and performances of this piece are played with an almost brusque "Tchaikovskyan" style; Rosand doesn't go overboard and articulates the lyrical sections especially well.
The Sibelius Humoresques are delightful; these six small pieces are never played on concert programs because they simply don't match up well against a concerto or a symphony. On a less positive note, Rosand's Chausson "Poeme" is probably the longest one I've ever heard, at over 17 minutes. The tempos drag considerably and although Rosand's big tone comes forth nicely, the opening cadenza and ending are just too slow. Like Grumiaux's recording of Ravel's "Tzigane", Rosand's is also very padded and lacking the necessary abandonment. He plays it very straightforwardly, hitting all the notes and never deviating far from the printed page. Berlioz's "Reverie & Caprice" and Saint Saens' "Havanaise" get good readings here. But the Lalo and Saint Saens concerto definitely make this 2-CD set well worth the investment. Four stars.