This excellent disc brings together, as far as I know, all of Ravel's chamber music for the violin with various one-instrument accompaniment (and in the case of the sonata for violin and cello not merely accompaniment). It is, quite simply, a delight from beginning to end. To start with the shorter works, the Kaddisch and Berceuse are poignantly played and the Habanera is lightly and subtly varied in texture and color. Juillet's singing, smooth tone is as deliciously perfect as I could possibly imagine, and the playing is, even more importantly, exquisitely phrased.
Among the virtuosity warhorses in the piano repertory, the five concertos by Camille Saint-Saens have established an appealing reputation. The audiences worldwide are enchanted to attend performances by great virtuosos in utterly melodious and harmonic works with dazzling keyboard pyrotechnics and musical ideas of the most refined quality. Yet, a very few of the professional pianists dare to approach this pianistic output by one of the most prolific and multifaceted artists of the European culture (composer, playwright, philosopher, astronomer, archaeologist, poet etc). To find the proper touch, to balance the wild virtuosity with the subtle musical concept, to get the deepest level of significance in these works – are all difficult tasks that require a high level of artistry (not only in pianistic terms).
Maestro Yan Pascal Tortelier celebrates his twenty five-year recording career and seventy-album discography on Chandos with this album of three of Roussel's most remarkable compositions. It follows a highly praised Birmingham concert with the same forces, namely the exceptional BBCPO and CBSO Chorus, and three revelatory soloists: Kathryn Rudge, 2017 BBC New Generation Artist, the young tenor Alessandro Fisher, joint first prize winner at the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and François Le Roux, famous for his award-winning performances of French operas.