Genevieve Laurenceau, Benjamin Levy, Orchestre de Picardie, Pauline Haas & Yan Levionnois – Saint-Saens (2021) [FLAC 24bit/88,2kHz]

Genevieve Laurenceau, Benjamin Levy, Orchestre de Picardie, Pauline Haas & Yan Levionnois – Saint-Saens (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/88,2kHz | Time – 01:04:01 minutes | 964 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © na”ive classique

A diminutive fi gure with a long beard; brilliant but cold compositions; an academic and conservative style: such is the – inaccurate – image that posterity often retains of Camille Saint-Sa”ens (1835-1921). In this year of the centenary of his death, Genevi`eve Laurenceau aims to shed new light on the French composer’s output and introduce us to another Saint-Sa”ens, whose luminous, warm, elegant writing enabled instruments to sing with a deeply human and virtuosic voice.

The centenary of the death of Saint-Sa”ens has inspired French violinist Genevi`eve Laurenceau to create a programme of contrasts for her many-faceted instrument, which in her hands becomes both intimate and virtuosic, chamber music and concertante all in one. This Saint-Sa”ens memorial year is an invitation to the more adventurous spirits to explore some of his less familiar works. Among them is French violinist Genevi`eve Laurenceau, who has devised this album with herself as soloist as an extended poem of varied stanzas profiling “a rather different Saint-Sa”ens, whose warm and luminous elegance of style gives the instruments a singing voice – singing not only with virtuosity but with a profound sense of humanity”.

Other voices the violin encounters are the cello of Yan Levionnois (for La Muse et le po`ete, a kind of symphonic poem for duo), and the harp of Pauline Haas (in a little jewel, the Fantaisie for violin and harp). Further partners in this dialogue are the Orchestre de Picardie under the baton of Benjamin Levy (in the Violin Concerto No. 1, and the Romances Op. 37 and Op. 48).

As a double act of tribute from one violinist to another, Genevi`eve Laurenceau also gives us the pyrotechnics of Eug`ene Ysa”ye’s virtuoso Caprice, based on Saint-Sa”ens’s ‘Etude en forme de valse Op. 52 No. 6. Ysa”ye was closely associated with Saint-Sa”ens, and gave the first performance of La Muse et le po`ete.

Genevi`eve Laurenceau presents all these rarely-heard works (covering the period from the late 1850s to 1910) with consummate mastery. She is completely at ease, generously outgoing in all musical partnerships and in every situation, from the most intimate moments to the height of symphonic ecstasy, as she shows “to what extent Saint-Sa”ens’s instrumental style is permeated by the voice, its theatricality and drama, and its often abrupt shifts of mood or character”. Clearly, for her this French repertoire is more than a passion: it is her musical mother tongue.

1. Romance in C Major, Op. 48 (07:22)
2. Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 20: I. Allegro (04:33)
3. Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 20: II. Andante espressivo (02:15)
4. Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 20: III. Tempo I (05:32)
5. Romance in D-Flat Major, Op. 37 (05:33)
6. Caprice d’apr`es l’Etude en forme de valse op. 52 n^0 6 de Saint-Sa”ens (08:39)
7. Fantaisie for violin and harp in A Major, Op. 124 (13:54)
8. La Muse et le Po`ete, Op. 132 (16:13)