Saint-Saens - the 5 Piano Concertos,
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