Violin Sonatas

Album cover art for upc 760623215327
Catalog: 6502153-2
Format: SACD


This enthralling double album brings together opposites that normally would not attract: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s violin sonatas, including the surprisingly original Violin Sonata in F major by the eleven-year-old child prodigy, and Camille Saint-Saëns’s contribution to the same genre when this composer who had also begun his career as a wunderkind was a mature master. Jean-Jacques Kantorow and Jacques Rouvier very unpretentiously present this carefully preserved treasure from the legendary Denon Archive as that which it is: great music. Saint-Saëns deserves substantial credit for enabling chamber music to regain a foothold in France alongside the omnipresent opera. Although the establishment of the Société Nationale de Musique going along with this process was intended as a demarcation from Germany, the neighboring country also dominant in chamber music, musicians on the other side of the Rhine could not completely ignore its great models. Brilliant writing style, particularly in the first sonata, is typical of Saint-Saëns. At its premiere this work was enthusiastically received by Marcel Proust (among others), who erected a famous literary monument to the work and its composer in the person of Vinteuil and his sonata in À la recherche du temps perdu. The potentially notorious “brillante element” may have contributed to the self-critical Mendelssohn’s decision not to publish his sonata of 1838. It was first Yehudi Menuhin who rescued the sonata from oblivion, and this work occupies a special place in the composer’s oeuvre. The rarely performed sonata clearly paved the way to the magnificent Violin Concerto that was composed a little while later. By contrast, the Sonata in F major from 1820 still clearly has Haydn as its model, while the vigorous Sonata in F minor by this composer who achieved early perfection continued Beethoven’s Sturm und Drang only a few years later.

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