The Regal and Rollicking Camille Saint-Saëns

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Camille Saint-Saëns had a career that lasted longer and covered more ground than most child prodigies. He started at the Paris Conservatory as a boy and grew up to write in virtually every corner of the music world. In addition to his far-ranging accomplishments as a composer, Saint-Saëns was an exceptional pianist who practiced two hours a day into his 80s and once thrilled Paris by performing all 25 Mozart piano concertos. When Marcel Proust heard him perform, he described Saint-Saëns's piano playing as "regal."

This week's episode covers both the regal and rollicking sides of Saint-Saëns's musical personality. Some of the works carry the gravitas of a late Romantic, while others show a lighter touch. As host David Dubal describes it, the music of Saint-Saëns is full of charm, euphony and perfection of design.

Program playlist (all pieces by Camille Saint-Saëns):

Camille Saint-Saens: Etude Op. 111 No. 6 in F
Jeanne-Marie Darre, piano
EMI

Concerto No. 5 Molto Allegro
Jeanne-Marie Darre, piano
EMI

Valse Mignonne
Camille Saint-Saëns, piano
archiphon

Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor: Allegro Scherzando
Emil Gilels, piano
Vai Audio

Wedding Cake Valse Op. 76
Lucille Chung, piano
XXI

Etude en Forme De Valse Op. 526
Alfred Cortot, piano
Pearl

Etude for Left-hand Alone, Op 135, No.1: Moto Perpetuo
Joao Carlos Martins, piano
Labor

Allegro Appasionato Op. 70
Cecile Ousset, piano
EMI

Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor: Allegro Scherzando: Presto
Emil Gilels, piano
Vai Audio

Comments [2]

Paul Capn from Winnipeg, Manitoba

The career of Saint-Saen was long - very long - 75 years long! Can you imagine the changes he saw? To have been his student - his legacy stretched back to his teachers, who in turn knew Hyden, Cherabini, etc. What Musical providence... Then to have known Stravinsky and the like... I believe Nadia Boulange was one of his pupils, and she in turn taught scads of American composers...

Dec. 11 2014 12:07 AM
arri bachrach from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Why did not Mr. Duval inform the listeners that the Valse Mignonne (recorded in 1905) was taken from a piano roll? How can that roll give a true example of Saint-Saens's playing? You would think that Mr. Duval would know better than to play that recording. S.S. made a number of acoustic recordings, which of course have serious limitations but still give a truer picture of his playing.
Years ago Mr. Duval also played some piano rolls made by Debussy (also without informing the audience that they were rolls) and described the playing as 'beautiful'. How could anyone tell the quality of the playing (nuances, sounds, chord balances, etc.)??

Arri Bachrach

Sep. 15 2014 03:19 PM

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