Triptyque for Violin & Piano, Op.136
During the third quarter of the 19 century, when the French only seemed interested in opera, Camille Saint-SaŽns (1835-1921), almost single-handedly, attempted to make the case for chamber music, which so many of his countrymen continued to think of as something German. Although famous for his larger orchestral works and instrumental concertos, he devoted a great deal of time and effort to writing chamber music. Not only does he have two string quartets to his credit, but he also wrote three works for piano trio, a quintet for piano, two violins, viola and cello, but also sonatas and instrumental works.
The Triptyque for Violin and Piano was dates from 1913. It is composed of three contrasting movements, each of them a character piece. The opening movement, Premiere (Prelude) is mostly gentle and wistful with a highly flexible melodic line. The middle movement, Vision Congolaise, has a lazy air and is filled with modal inflections and rhythms which bring to mind habanera music. The finale, Joyeusete, is in the manner of a brisque scherzo.
The Triptyque, though not so titled, is, in fact, a suite and makes a excellent choice for a sonata concert or recital piece.