These sparkling performances of Saint-Saëns' violin concertos are a fitting start to Hyperion's new series of Romantic Violin Concertos; a follow on from the highly successful Romantic Piano Concerto series.
Saint-Saëns C Major concerto resembles Mendelssohn's great violin concerto. Both are declamatory, extravagant in character, highly lyrical and immediately establish the soloist as a romantic protagonist.
Though more conventional, the violin writing for the Concerto in A Major is ever-inventive, especially in the witty second episode where the hen from Le Carnaval des Animaux makes a premature entrance. This was the first of several works he composed for the great Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate; in 1859 just fifteen years old but already a famous virtuoso. Saint-Saëns' instantly memorable melodies are a feature of all his best-known works, and there are tunes in abundance in the well-known B Minor Concerto. The intense B minor mood probably offered inspiration for the violin concertos of Elgar and Bartók.