Gautier Capuçon / Renaud Capuçon / Lionel Bringuier

Saint-Saëns: La Muse et le Poète; Violin Concerto No. 3; Cello Concerto No. 1

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What you get here is something of a Saint-Saëns sampler, with a pair of famous concertos and a work for violin, cello, and orchestra that's not so famous and neatly ties the two outer concertos together. Soloist brothers Renaud Capuçon (violin) and Gautier Capuçon (cello) are pure representatives of the French school and of the way this music was taught when it was written. You get clean, noble tone, with stirring but never heavy renditions of the two concertos' exciting finales. Together with the work of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and conductor Lionel Bringuier, it's all perfect and elevating and balanced, maybe a little too perfect. The out-of-the-ordinary thing here is the entr'acte, La muse et le poète, which Saint-Saëns composed in 1910. There is no detailed program of the sort the title might suggest (the violin is the Muse), but the instruments do indeed evoke a creative process evolving out of an intimate dialogue, flowering into a full expression of melancholy. It's an enchanting little piece, and it's ideal for a concert or recording that features a violin and a cello, adding to the sparse repertory for that pair of instruments. (It also exists in a piano trio version.) A worthwhile rediscovery combined with fully competent readings of probably Saint-Saëns' two most familiar concertos makes a good place to start for anyone with the solo-and-orchestra music of this increasingly popular French composer.

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