Three Frenchmen play music by their countryman with charm and brilliance
The Strad Issue: April 2021
Description: Three Frenchmen play music by their countryman with charm and brilliance
Musicians: Renaud Capuçon (violin) Edgar Moreau (cello) Bertrand Chamayou (piano)
Works: Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata no.1 in D minor op.75; Cello Sonata no.1 in C minor op.32; Piano Trio no.2 in E minor op.92
Catalogue number: ERATO 9029516710
Three top French musicians mark the centenary of one of their country’s 19th-century greats with this disc of some of his best chamber works. A brilliant pianist himself, Saint-Saëns never stinted on the piano parts and Chamayou deserves a medal for putting in at least six notes for every one in the strings, playing throughout with effortless technical facility.
Capuçon turns in a particularly clean and elegant performance of the Violin Sonata no.1, of Proustian fame. The first movement feels truly agitato, the Adagio’s flowing, improvisatory arabesques are graceful and pretty, and the duo whip up a storm of excitement with their passionate octaves towards the close of the work. The low ranges of the more Brahmsian Cello Sonata are explored to great effect by Moreau, with a lovely, rich focused sound and beautifully shapely phrasing, although his occasional grunts and breaths at moments of intensity are somewhat distracting.
The five-movement piano trio receives a charming and captivating interpretation. The Andante, while not quite intense enough to live up to its Appassionato marking, is gracefully played, the violin and cello octaves are clean and sparkling in the scherzo and the finale’s brilliant fugal section is played with precision and vitality. The sound is consistently crisp and well balanced.