Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos triumph again with this exceptional album of French music. Both of these exceptionally lovely works was dedicated to the great Eugene Ysaye, and fittingly they are both deeply challenging and refined. As with their previous albums, Monteiro and Santos prove to be terrific partners. Like their disc of the Schumann works, this release has already gotten enthusiastic praise. It's not hard to fathom why, either; both artists choose repertoire that they feel strongly about and commit only their best thoughts to disc. It's quite refreshing in an era where anybody will record anything – sometimes a second or third time – and get to hear such excellent music making.
A concerto for these forces is unusual to say the least, and yet Chausson balances everything effortlessly; you wouldn't want the work any other way. The Quarteto Lopes-Graça is impressive, but Santos and Monteiro tower over them. Monteiro plays hanDetroit Symphonymely, with total confidence and conviction. As I've previously mentioned, he has a unique sound, but so well does it fit the French music he plays that it seems trivial to question it. And again, Santos proves a miraculously sensitive artist. Perhaps the quartet blends less well than they should, but the piece itself is captivating and overall entirely satisfying.
The coupling is excellent, and comes in the form of the evergreen Poeme Op. 25. Arranged here for piano and violin, it sounds fresh and entirely natural. Monteiro thrills with a warm sound full with vibrato, and Santos follows him like a shadow. It's so convincing that you wonder why you don't hear the work this way more often. If you don't like French music, chamber music, or the violin, you won't hear anything to make you change your mind. However, provided you like any of those things, this CD should provide many hours of enjoyment. Excellent.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman