Here's a lovely little recital of French music of modest scale, one that would have been prized in its own time and should still be in ours. The combination of Camille Saint-Saëns and his student Gabriel Fauré is an effective one, with the showy strains of Saint-Saëns' Introduction et rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28, a perfect virtuoso exploitation of classical French technique, setting off the quieter and more involved and reflective music of Fauré's incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande. French violinist Deborah Nemtanu and conductor Thomas Zehetmair, a violinist himself, approach the project in a collaborative spirit, and the music seems both natural and expertly modulated at every turn. Among the attractions is the rarely heard Violin Concerto No. 1 in A major, Op. 20, of Saint-Saëns; this single-movement piece has the quality of a rhapsody, with musical ideas appearing in quick succession. Nemtanu gives it an extremely sensitive performance. The Romance for violin and orchestra in C major, Op. 48, of Saint-Saëns, and the exquisite Berceuse, Op. 16, of Fauré reestablish the balance of outward and inward in a recital that will stay in your head for hours or days, all the more surprisingly because of the comparative obscurity of the material.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Pelléas et Mélisande, suite, Op. 80|