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It is no wonder that Camille Saint-Saëns found the medium of the solo concerto and solo showpiece so congenial: his pro- digious musical talent was made up in large part of the kind of extroversion and dazzle upon which such works depend. His gift for melodies and the elegant line, his flair for orchestration – in total, his superior craftsmanship – were ideally suited to mu- sic in which depth was not demanded.

The present work, written in 1863 and dedicated to the great Spanish violinist, Pablo de Sarasate, operates appealingly on two of the composer’s ideal levels: in the slow Introduction, the violin sings a lovely, plaintive melody whose lack of passion tells much about Saint-Saëns’ cool, elegant expressiveness; in the Rondo Capriccioso, dash, virtuosity, and songfulness combine in his most effective manner.

— Orrin Howard