Sonata No.1 in d minor for Violin & Piano, Op.75
Saint-SaŽns' First Violin Sonata was composed in 1885. Critics noted that in design it resembled, though certainly not tonally, Beethoven's famous Kreutzer Sonata, in that it was intended to create a brilliant effect in performance. Although it is in four movements, there is only one real pause, that between the second and third movements. The highly syncopated opening movement, Allegro agitato, is darkly passionate. The following Adagio is noteworthy for the original use of dialogue between the two instruments. The third movement, Allegro moderato, serves as a kind of intermezzo and leads without pause to the highly dramatic finale, Allegro molto, with its virtuosic panache, so spectacular, it could, by itself, serve as an encore.
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.