RE: Saint-Saëns sonatas - I think Audio Magazine offered the best review: "The two [Saint-Saëns] sonatas, for equal violin and piano, are witness to the real value of the composer . . . heavyweight music, so fashionable in the concert hall, is much less effective in the confines of the living room, where this graciously Romantic music easily comes into its own. I enjoyed it. [Murray and Jane Abbott-Kirk are] a good team, working extremely well together. The recording, particularly good of the piano, brings the two instruments into exactly the right balance for the music, listenable without a bit of sonic strain. These were composed in [1885 and 1896]; old Saint-Saëns kept right at it until his last year, 1921."
RE: Rubinstein sonatas - I think Audio Magazine offered the best review: "These [four Rubinstein] Sonatas are really lovely. . . How do we neglect such good things?! . . . The earlier sonatas here are heavily Mendelssohnian but of a later, more lush expression as of the 1860s. The late Sonata [No. 3, Op. 98] is far closer to Brahms, a more weighty and passionate style. . . . [the] artists do an excellent and serious interpretative job. Robert Murray's violin . . . [is] highly musical, and Daniel Graham's piano full of energy, reflecting Rubinstein's own masterful pianism."
RE: Saint-Saëns - Fanfare also favorably compared Robert Murray with Heifetz: "Camille Saint-Saëns was surely one of the most gifted melodists of all time. I doubt that he ever wrote an ugly or unmusical sound . . . Both [sonatas] are lovely, facile pieces of music that provide an ideal opportunity for one to refresh one's soul . . . Both works are the result of the composer's maturity, dating from his 50th and 61st years. . . . to my surprise, Heifetz plays the music [on his recording of Sonata No. 1] with a bit more reserve and at slower tempos . . . Murray's . . . greater vigor help to offset the occasional sweetness that is inherent in Saint-Saëns . . ."
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What a bargain! It is a real treat to hear the difference in sound between the two fine old Italian violins played in making the recordings, and even the program notes are excellent. On top of that, the violinist is not only a technical virtuoso, but must have a golden ear as well, since he also set up the equipment and did the recordings himself in real halls--no 'canned', artificial reverb! The Saint-Saens and Telemann Fantasies alone are worth the asking price, so the Rubinsteins are just sort of an added bonus, and very enjoyable as well. Beautiful playing, recording and packaging--what's not to like!?