The Saint-Saens Piano Concertos are consistently engaging pieces that deserve to be heard more often. Full of wit, surprises, and not without drama either. They make great items both for concerts and on CDs. This recording, despite all the praise, is a bit disappointing. Hough is consistently fast and exciting, but lacks the sparkle, wit and charm that's essential for this music. The finale of No. 5, for example, is pounded out rather insensitively compared to the swagger of Jean-Philippe Collard or Pascal Roge. These two remain the top choices for these pieces. They play with more colour, sparkle and imagination than Hough, and they're much cheaper too. On top of that, Oramo's orchestral accompaniment for Hough pales next to Previn (for Collard) and Dutoit (for Roge).
This recording is by no means bad, but I really can't see any reason for buying it given that the above alternatives are both better and cheaper.
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