The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Saint-George: Violin Concertos in D major G029, A major G039 & G major G050, Symphonie concertante in G major G024
Saturday, 01 September 2007
Bertrand Cervera (violin) Christophe Guiot (violin) Thibault Vieux (violin) Orchestre Les Archets de Paris
Calliope CAL 9373
Les Archets de Paris includes some excellent orchestral string players, three of whom assume solo roles in Saint-George’s works recorded here. Gabriel Banat [WHO’S HE?] has compared the black violinist–composer’s solo figurations with some from the works of Gaviniès and Beethoven [DO YOU MEAN HE WAS PLAGIARISING, OR THAT THEY ARE THE EQUAL OF?], but Saint-George’s characteristic leaps from a high to a low register are especially reminiscent of Mozart, notably his Sinfonia concertante K364 finale. Bertrand Cervera is the able soloist in Saint George’s A major Concerto G039, contributing sprightly, characterful playing in the fast movements and excelling particularly in the finale’s exhilarating brisure [CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN T HIS TERM?] bowing. There is an aristocratic feeling to the whole that seems just right, and his cantabile playing is appropriately expressive, particularly in the central Adagio. Christophe Guiot seems more technically challenged in the D major Concerto G029, in which, for example, some bravura passagework in the finale is not perfectly overcome; the second movement, however, features some delicate melodic playing. The contrasts between these two violinists’ styles are amply demonstrated in the Symphonie concertante G024, which suffers from some ragged ensemble.
The acrobatics of the G major Concerto G050 seem to hold no fear for Thibault Vieux, who seems in control throughout, if lacking some of the flair of his fellow soloists. His melancholy central movement, though, is reflective and moving and he delivers a dazzling account of the final rondeau.
The orchestra provides sterling support, accompanying alertly with crispness and vigour. The recordings are clear with a touch of warmth; balance is admirable, but close miking allows undesirable noises occasionally to distract.
From the September 2007 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.