Lyrical concerto masterpieces
S. Peliska | Naples, FL | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of concertos by Saint-Saëns is the ideal one for those searching for the best of the French concerto repertoire. The three works recorded on this disc are shining examples of beautiful lyrical writing for soloist and orchestra. The CD is also bargain-priced at only $10.
Yo-Yo Ma gives an excellent rendition of the Cello Concerto No. 1, exhibiting great technical virtuosity as well as musicality. Comparatively few composers write for the cello than, say, the piano or violin; so if you like the sound of the cello this concerto is a must!
The Piano Concerto No. 2 as performed by Cecile Licad with the London Philharmonic and André Previn can be best described as "sparkling." Even the dark, dramatic first movement has a certain lightness to it. This concerto has no slow movement; the second movement is a playful scherzando, whimsical and humorous. It almost has an effervescent quality, like champagne bubbles. If the second movement is like a babbling brook, then the third is like a waterfall. It opens with a sudden rush in the strings, and the piano takes off at a rollicking presto. Licad's pianism is excellent.
Finally, there's the beautiful Violin Concerto No. 3, performed by Cho-Liang Lin. The opening movement is dark and turbulent, but with snatches of lyricism, a foretaste of more to come. The gorgeous slow movement evokes images of spring, with its flowering, passionate melodies; Lin is truly disarming here. The third movement is actually based on a motive from the first movement. There are plenty of virtuoso violin fireworks here, but beyond that the movement shows Saint-Saëns' great orchestral craftsmanship. The Philharmonia Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas gets a chance to shine at the end, with a triumphal theme in the brass underscored in the low strings. Brilliant orchestral writing."