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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 August 2011
This is simply the set to have for the Saint-Saens Piano Concertos. The performances are uniformly excellent - Collard and Previn have a real rapport and make a great case for these unjustly neglected works. The Pascal Roge set is excellent as well, but if I had to choose I'd go for this one. There's little to choose between the two pianists, but the orchestral playing here is more consistently top-class than the Roge.

If you don't know these works, go for it - it's a great bargain.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This set of performances was recorded in the late 1980s when the discs were issued separately. The most attractive one for collectors at that time was the coupling of concertos 2 and 4. Those two concertos have always been considered the strongest with memorable tunes and interesting use of the orchestra and they inevitably made the strongest coupling. The other three make for pleasant but less memorable experiences. These preferences are similar to the way that Saint Saens' violin concerto 3 dwarfs the popularity of his others and the symphony 3 dwarfs the rest of his symphonies, in each case the preferences reflect the compositional strength of the preferred works.

The current successfully re-mastered set of the Collard discs now offers the whole series of piano concertos priced at a lower level than either of the single discs which can still be bought separately from some suppliers. This is a very attractive proposition as, although there are obviously favoured works within the set, the less favoured works are still skilfully written and well worth the occasional airing which is now a more affordable option. The remastering has clarified textures and gives more sense of 'presence' with a good balance between the piano and orchestra.

As regards comparative performances, the Collard set is undoubtedly the most exciting complete set yet available with a very fulsome and open-hearted approach to the music making both pianistically and orchestrally. This, to give an idea of alternative approaches to this music, is in direct contrast with Rubinstein's concerto 2, for example, which is altogether more gentlemanly and refined but less exciting. Thibaudet also goes for a similarly more elegant and slightly cool Gallic approach in his coupling of 2 and 5. Casadesus, in his recording of concerto 4 with Bernstein, is simply larger than life and thrilling but very difficult to acquire these days.

Hough's approach falls somewhere in between all of these and is probably the main competitor with Collard for a boxed set. Hough's is a very virtuosic account with lots of speed but this is achieved without Collard's compensating dramatic weight. There is an arguable case that the music thus becomes a display of digital dexterity at the expense of musical satisfaction.

Such an approach as Hough's might suit all the works as a whole but tends to under-sell the more symphonic nature of the concerto 4 especially and the exciting concerto 2 which is constructed in three movements of increasing speed and drive. The important word here is 'drive' which also implies some dramatic weight. Bearing in mind the relative greater popularity and possible importance of the dramatically weightier concertos 2 and 4, it seems more appropriate to ensure the maximum effect with those two works especially. It is this dramatic weight applied to even the least of these concertos that makes Collard's set stand out as being particularly successful and will give him the possible edge over Hough for many collectors.

I would therefore suggest that this re-mastered and bargain priced set should be considered very seriously by future purchasers especially if an exciting performance of concertos 2 and 4 is the main priority and there is an interest in dramatic weight rather than a display of digital dexterity throughout the set.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This EMI Gemini set very usefully duplicates an earlier mid-price release from EMI in the now-defunct Double Forte series (Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos) which I have; this in itself was a compilation of the original single discs (here Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto 1, Wedding Cake etc, here Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto 2, 4, and here Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto 3 & 5). The recordings were made between 1985-87 in Abbey Road, and Jean-Philippe Collard was accompanied by André Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the fairly early DDD recordings sound just fine to me, although I note that EMI felt the need to remaster them in 1999 when the Double Forte set first appeared.

Collard makes the most of this music, written to helpfully display the skill of the soloist without undue virtuosity by Saint-Saëns, and I would say that the set is certainly one of the two top choices for these engaging works, the other being Pascal Roge's set on Decca Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos.

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 February 2014
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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on 3 October 2013
Its well recorded and played,and sounds good.I bought this as I only had these concertos on an old cassette,which was wearing out fast.
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on 24 August 2013
A good performance and once again value for money, thank you
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on 27 July 2015
Pleased with C D and price.
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2 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2012
Frankly, I find a little Saint Saens goes a very long way, but that said this disc makes pleasant listening when one wants a bit of symphonic romanticism. Whether or not one needs anything else by this composer is up to you.

Pleasing but not inspiring. Sorry, Francophiles.
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Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos by Camille Saint-Saëns (Audio CD - 1995)

Saint-Saens: Violin Concertos Nos. 1-3
Saint-Saens: Violin Concertos Nos. 1-3 by Fanny Clamagirand (Audio CD - 2010)

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