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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint-Saens Piano Concertos, 2 Mar. 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful 2-cd Decca set with all of Saint-Saens' piano concertos beautifully played by Pascal Roge. Saint-Saens was a well-known virtuous on the keyboard, and played piano and organ as well as composing for all instrumental types. I remember hearing a story years ago that he played his scales every morning on the piano religiously, and did so while reading the paper at the same time! Good way to practice scales, for sure. His Symphony Number 3, the Organ Symphony, which incorporates organ and keyboards, is one of the most wonderful and amazingly powerful pieces of music ever written, in my opinion.

However, back to the piano concertos. A particularly good feature of this 2-cd set is that we get all of the piano concertos in one package, and all brilliantly interpreted and played by Pascal Roge. The second piano concerto is probably the most well-known today of Saint-Saens' piano concertos, but I think all five of the concertos are wonderful, and certainly well worth having in your music library. They are all, as is all of Saint-Saens' writing, lyrical, melodic, virtuosic but approachable, beautiful music which sings on in your head long after the playing has stopped.

Pascal Roge is an acknowledged master of interpretation and playing of French composers, and has a wide repertoire, including Saint-Saens, Faure, Ravel, Satie and Poulenc. So getting these works played by him, together with the Philhamonia Orchestra (no.s 1 and 4), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (no.2 and 5), and London Philharmonic Orchestra (no. 3), all under Charles Dutoit, is a real bonus. Totally recommended recording and well worth getting hold of.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 28 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
If your CD collection, like mine, has next to nothing by Saint-Saens in it then do go for this remarkably cheap complete set of the Piano Concertos. Saint-Saens was a master craftsman and his piano and orchestral writing is very fine, with many moods and atmospheres set beautifully. Pascal Roge presents all the works with appropriate combinations of brilliance and subtlety, and the support given by Charles Dutoit with all the three different orchestras is beautifully consistent. There is so much to enjoy here, whatever the critics and posterity may have to say about Saint-Saens in general.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LES BIJOUX, 3 May 2010
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
This set is slightly odd in more ways than one, but not ways that seem to me to matter much. Not when compared with the set's virtues anyway. I have not experienced one instant's doubt over awarding five stars, and I recommend the set wholeheartedly, but please take note of a few points regarding the recorded quality, as they may weigh more heavily with you than they do with me.

The first oddity is that no fewer than three top orchestras have been engaged to participate in this programme of only five not very long or unduly taxing concertos. The most successful items are the second and fifth, in which the orchestra is the Royal Philharmonic. However I suspect that the real issue has nothing to do with orchestras and everything to do with technical details. Concertos 1, 3 and 4 were recorded in the Kingsway Hall in Holborn in the heart of London, but the town hall in unfashionable Walthamstow happens to house one of the finest recording environments in the world. Concertos 2 and 5 were done there, and under a different producer from the others. The entire series appears to have been recorded (analogue) in 1981, but not only has it featured different orchestras, different recording venues and different producers, the type of sound also differs among concertos 1,3 and 4. The piano tone in no 3 is a little pinched and lacking in bloom, (this one has its own sound engineer), and the effect in no 1 is even slightly peculiar. The piano sounds too close, but in fact not too loud and it does not dominate the orchestra. To tell the truth, it's not unattractive, but it's hardly a model of how to do things either. Most importantly, it does not prevent us from enjoying the languid effortless brilliance of Roge's passagework, still less his elegant patrician phrasing.

This soloist is simply perfect for these concertos. To hear the whole effect at its very best try the last concerto, which gives the set a brilliant send-off. However nothing that Roge does here is anything short of superlative. Also, although there are three orchestras there is only one conductor, namely Dutoit, and I am coming to associate his name with excellence in everything he does. I prefer to steer clear of the question whether French ethnicity confers special insights into French music, but presumably it does no harm. I have not sought Roge out specifically when looking for certain works of Faure and Ravel, but when looking through reviews for guidance his was the name that kept coming up, and I have not gone wrong yet by following the recommendations I was given. The whole sense of this set is one of easy authenticity. These artists understand this music with their heads, sure, but they have another organ of understanding too, the marrow of their bones, which is the same stuff as the composer's was.

It is also apparent that they love the music, and so they ought to in my own view, because I love it too. If I may say so, some very foolish and insolent criticism has been levelled at Saint-Saens, not least by Tovey at his silliest. Music so elegant, accomplished, original and beautiful as this does not grow on trees, and when Ravel was starting work on his own concerto he linked Saint-Saens as a model with the greatest concerto-writer of them all, Mozart. Roge's cool assurance and patrician poise are the perfect counterpart. You can appreciate it more or less anywhere on the two discs - as a random example in the way he and Dutoit ease back the tempo for the second theme in the second movement of the second work - and it is a source of sustained enjoyment throughout the last concerto.

Whatever we think of Saint-Saens and however we ultimately rate him, he never seems to do anything badly, which is more than I could say for his nearest parallel Mendelssohn, and come to that more than I could say for Beethoven or Wagner. It is music with perfect manners, and here we have a soloist similarly gifted. Despite some ups and downs in the engineering, there is nothing here than came within un kilometre of spoiling my enjoyment. Even the unpretentious liner note is not bad, partly because it is unpretentious. There are 70 minutes of music per disc, give a couple on the first disc and take a compensating couple on the second. Concerto no 3 has had to be split between the discs - oh what hardships we have to endure - and the recording even at its best is only ADD. Take comfort from the asking price if either of these factors bothers you. Myself, I take my comfort from the music.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Masterpiece, 31 Jan. 2009
By 
Peter Taylor (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Of the many hundreds of classical CD's I've purchased over the years this gave me the most pleasant surprise. Unfortunately Saint Saens is better known for some of his more trivial pieces ( He wouldn't allow Carnival of the Animals to be issued in his own lifetime for this reason ) but these concertos show his full creative range and power. The style and virtuosity are similar to Chopins piano concertos but in my opinion these pieces have greater depth, which is high praise indeed.

All are are played with supreme fluency by Pascal Roge and the orchestration and recording quality is consistently high for the set having a warm mellow tone which suits the mood of the music perfectly.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sant-saens piano concertos pascal roge, 30 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Excellent recordings. Pascal Roge plays Saint-Saens very poetically and good balance with the orchestra. Occasinally the strings sound a little thin but this is normal with cd's. Overall a beautiful cd which really captures the essence of Saint-Saens
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine must have performances heading my list, 25 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
I can't be without either the Roge or Collard sets of the complete piano concertos and have to select them as a joint top of my list, with Hough being a very enjoyable close runner up with much to admire in his cycle. Roge and Collard are for me so idiomatic, so Gallic, exploiting the beauties of these scores with virtuosic scintillation and characterisation, but above all with wit. They and Previn and Dutoit in their respective cycles are absolutely tuned in to Saint-Saens. Either of their sets will satisfy but at this bargain price why not have both? Consequently, I am cross referencing this review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Saint-Saens - the 5 Piano Concertos, 15 Dec. 2012
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Camille Saint-Saens' five piano concertos are played on this Double Decca CD by Pascal Rogé with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London (concertos numbers 1 and 4), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (numbers 2 and 5) and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (concerto number 3), conducted by Charles Dutoit.

His Concerto No.1 in D Major written in 1858 was the first piano concerto of note to be composed in France. Concerto No.2 in g minor is probably the best known of the set - a concerto that `begins with Bach and ends with Offenbach' was the comment of the Polish pianist and composer Zygmunt Stojowski on the basis of the concerto's changing moods. The `Bach' comment was provoked by the long solo piano introduction which is reminiscent now of the improvisations of Marc-André Hamelin or Gabriela Montero. Once the orchestra enters, it embarks on a chorale-like melody inspired by a piece Saint-Saens' pupil Gabriel Fauré had composed. The `Offenbach' comparison was made because of the sprightly tarantella that ends the piece.

The Concerto No.3 in E Flat Major opens with a long slow introduction and then soloist and orchestra pick up the tempo with a development of the opening theme. The central movement Andante is quite ethereal - almost hymn-like. We are soon shaken out of our reverie though by the Allegro finale. All concertos are in three movements except Concerto No. 4 in c minor, which has only two formal movements, but in three sections, played without a break. The Concerto No.5 in F Major, sometimes called `The Egyptian', was composed in that country when Saint-Saens was on holiday there. Like Concerto No.3 it is too rarely played. My only quibble with this set is that Concerto No.3 had to be split between the two CDs, released in 1981; but this is fine music, well recorded.

Saint-Saens: Violin Concertos Nos. 1-3
Saint-SaŽns - Cello Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Cello Sonata No 1
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Music, 22 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
If anyone had asked me what I knew of Saint-Saens I wound have said his Carnival of Animals. But I would have been wrong - all I actually knew was the Swan from his Carnival of Animals.

When I noticed his Piano Concertos on the Hyperion series of Romantic Piano Concertos I was intrigued. I started looking other recordings at a price I could more afford and found this double CD with great reviews and purchased as soon as I could.

I haven't stopped playing these wonderful CD's since I received them and what a joy they are to listen to. I would recommend these to anyone.

Please note; I bought this second hand, for a song, from a reputable dealer through Amazon, which means I can listen to some great music on a limited budget. I've bought about 20 second hand cd's over the past year through Amazon with no problems so far.

Thank you
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous recording, 23 Jun. 2011
By 
P. Adey "Panda" (South Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
This is as good, if not better, than the Aldo Ciccolini recording. Pascal Roge plays with enormous passion and control.
This CD takes a special place in my music library.
Highly Recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Supreme recordings, 19 May 2015
By 
Parky (preston Lancashire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
These are crystal clear recordings and amongst the best of Saint-Saens five piano concertos
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Saint-SaŽns: Piano Concertos
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos by Camille Saint-SaŽns (Audio CD - 1995)
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