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In the centenary of his death in 1921, Camille Saint-Saƫns is still patronized in some quarters as a prodigiously fluent musician of second-rate gifts. Yet his elders, his contemporaries and his students all esteemed him as an innovator as well as a gifted melodist and supremely disciplined technician in the craft as well as the art of composing. For Berlioz, the only problem with the child prodigy Saint-Saƫns was that he knew too much. Ravel declared that he learnt everything he knew about orchestration from scores such as the Second Piano Concerto. Out of the composer's five piano concertos, the Second has long established itself as the most popular thanks to a unique and winning stylistic progression neatly summed up 'from Bach to Offenbach', opening with a monumental cadenza and orchestral response in the manner of a Bachian prelude for organ, and winding up with an exhilarating tarantella. Three years after it's composition in 1868, a version for solo piano was made by none other than Georges Bizet, Saint-Saƫns's short-lived contemporary. The arrangement was enthusiastically taken up by the composer, and it sheds valuable light on the essentially pianistic nature of his inspiration. This rarely encountered but fascinating transcription is complemented by 'Mon coeur s'ouvre Ơ ta voix', the love-confession sung by Delila in the grand Biblical epic staging the downfall of Samson, in a solo piano version made by the Russian musicologist Boris Borodin. Another of the composer's greatest admirers was Tchaikovsky, and Maria Stembolskaya adds a pair of piano fantasies inspired by the best-known of his stage works, Eugene Onegin: a free transcription of the third-act Polonaise made by Liszt, and a spectacular paraphrase of the opera's main themes by one of his most talented students, Paul Pabst.
In the centenary of his death in 1921, Camille Saint-Saƫns is still patronized in some quarters as a prodigiously fluent musician of second-rate gifts. Yet his elders, his contemporaries and his students all esteemed him as an innovator as well as a gifted melodist and supremely disciplined technician in the craft as well as the art of composing. For Berlioz, the only problem with the child prodigy Saint-Saƫns was that he knew too much. Ravel declared that he learnt everything he knew about orchestration from scores such as the Second Piano Concerto. Out of the composer's five piano concertos, the Second has long established itself as the most popular thanks to a unique and winning stylistic progression neatly summed up 'from Bach to Offenbach', opening with a monumental cadenza and orchestral response in the manner of a Bachian prelude for organ, and winding up with an exhilarating tarantella. Three years after it's composition in 1868, a version for solo piano was made by none other than Georges Bizet, Saint-Saƫns's short-lived contemporary. The arrangement was enthusiastically taken up by the composer, and it sheds valuable light on the essentially pianistic nature of his inspiration. This rarely encountered but fascinating transcription is complemented by 'Mon coeur s'ouvre Ơ ta voix', the love-confession sung by Delila in the grand Biblical epic staging the downfall of Samson, in a solo piano version made by the Russian musicologist Boris Borodin. Another of the composer's greatest admirers was Tchaikovsky, and Maria Stembolskaya adds a pair of piano fantasies inspired by the best-known of his stage works, Eugene Onegin: a free transcription of the third-act Polonaise made by Liszt, and a spectacular paraphrase of the opera's main themes by one of his most talented students, Paul Pabst.
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In the centenary of his death in 1921, Camille Saint-Saƫns is still patronized in some quarters as a prodigiously fluent musician of second-rate gifts. Yet his elders, his contemporaries and his students all esteemed him as an innovator as well as a gifted melodist and supremely disciplined technician in the craft as well as the art of composing. For Berlioz, the only problem with the child prodigy Saint-Saƫns was that he knew too much. Ravel declared that he learnt everything he knew about orchestration from scores such as the Second Piano Concerto. Out of the composer's five piano concertos, the Second has long established itself as the most popular thanks to a unique and winning stylistic progression neatly summed up 'from Bach to Offenbach', opening with a monumental cadenza and orchestral response in the manner of a Bachian prelude for organ, and winding up with an exhilarating tarantella. Three years after it's composition in 1868, a version for solo piano was made by none other than Georges Bizet, Saint-Saƫns's short-lived contemporary. The arrangement was enthusiastically taken up by the composer, and it sheds valuable light on the essentially pianistic nature of his inspiration. This rarely encountered but fascinating transcription is complemented by 'Mon coeur s'ouvre Ơ ta voix', the love-confession sung by Delila in the grand Biblical epic staging the downfall of Samson, in a solo piano version made by the Russian musicologist Boris Borodin. Another of the composer's greatest admirers was Tchaikovsky, and Maria Stembolskaya adds a pair of piano fantasies inspired by the best-known of his stage works, Eugene Onegin: a free transcription of the third-act Polonaise made by Liszt, and a spectacular paraphrase of the opera's main themes by one of his most talented students, Paul Pabst.
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