<< -- 3 -- Robert Anderson ENTERTAINING TRICKS
For much of his life Saint-Saëns had the Spanish Sarasate as his main
violin colleague. Concertos were written for him, as also was the Introduction
and Rondo capriccioso. Such works of utmost brilliance needed also
just what Sarasate could offer, 'passionless, smooth, eely tone production'
in the words of Carl Flesch. Saint-Saëns rarely plumbed depths, and Sarasate
remained at heart a salon artist of rare distinction. The First Violin Sonata
was in fact dedicated to Martin Marsick. If Sarasate's career was enhanced by
adoring women, Marsick's was destroyed by injudicious pursuit of them.
Saint-Saëns was affected neither way, and produced in the Scherzo a movement
of piquant enchantment
[listen -- CDA67100 track 3, 0:00-1:07].
Sonata No 2 was indeed first played by Sarasate, though paradoxically it is
more serious and 'classical' than its companion. The Scherzo's trio, for instance,
as a three-part canon at the 7th, is cunning, attractive and convincing
[listen -- CDA67100 track 6, 1:22-2:29].
Triptyque was dedicated to Elisabeth, violinist Queen of the Belgians,
and in the initial 'Prémice' Saint-Saëns plays entertaining tricks with
[listen -- CDA67100 track 9, 0:00-1:09].
Philippe Graffin has the silken, silvery tone to display the debonair elegance
of Saint-Saëns. With Pascal Devoyon as like-thinking partner, he gives
limpid performances of music well worth an airing.