Though it was the least well received by its intended dedicatee -- Pablo de Sarasate -- the third violin concerto of Camille Saint-Saëns has endured as one of his most popular concertos along with the A minor Cello Concerto and the Third Piano Concerto. The earlier two violin concertos, each written some 20 years before, are still noteworthy, lively concertos, but lack the same emotional impact and maturity of the seasoned B minor Concerto. What they may lack in depth is made up for with pyrotechnic virtuosic displays, perhaps explaining Sarasate's fondness. This Naxos album places the B minor Concerto first, ending with the C major Concerto, a program order that curiously seems to place the bigger "bang" finish at the beginning, closing with a less emphatic note. Regardless of the order in which listeners enjoys the three concertos, the performances given by violinist Fanny Clamagirand and the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä under Patrick Gallois are each delivered with equal amounts of precision, warmth, and vitality. Clamagirand's playing in particular is extremely nimble and dazzling, something both Sarasate and Saint-Saëns would have been proud of. Her sound is not exceptionally big, however, and the recording would certainly have benefitted by increasing her sound level. As it stands, the orchestra too frequently obscures Clamagirand's otherwise memorable playing.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61|
|Violin Concerto No. 2 in C major, Op. 58|