The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: A highlight of French Romanticism that could benefit from deeper insight
Musicians: Bruno Monteiro (violin) Jõao Paulo Santos (piano) Lopes-Graça Quartet
Composer: Chausson

Completed in 1892, Chausson’s Concert is a unique attempt at creating a score of symphonic proportions for just six musicians, with its rich harmonic language pointing towards the peak of the Romantic era. This new release describes the work as a ‘concerto’, and with the violin and piano placed well to the fore, it highlights the exacting technical demands in a finale where fingers fly around the violin fingerboard, leading to some questionable intonation from distinguished Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro.

Up to that point it is a highly convincing account, beautifully played, with the gentle and unaffected Sicilienne preceding a slow Grave of quiet dignity. Yet I find that the added subtle changes of tempo, rhythm and dynamic on the recent recording from the Wihan Quartet and friends (Naxos) take the listener beneath the skin of the music with more perception than their Portuguese counterparts here.

But the Centaur disc is recommended for the rhapsodic account of the Poème (Naxos offers the more extended Piano Trio), where Monteiro’s generous vibrato produces radiant colours to complement the generous backdrop from pianist João Paulo Santos. I would have preferred a more generous recorded balance for the quartet on what is a disc with otherwise likeable sound.