Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens: 'Piano Concertos, Vol 2'

Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens: 'Piano Concertos, Vol 2'

Article excerpt

Saint-Saens

'Piano Concertos, Vol 2' Piano Concerto No 3, Op 29. Africa, Op 89. Caprice-Valse, 'Wedding Cake', Op 76. Rhapsodie d'Auvergne, Op 73 Romain Descharmes Malmo Symphony Orchestra / Marc Soustrot Naxos (M) 8 573477 (57' * DDD)

I was a bit sniffy about this team's First and Second Concertos (6/17), which I felt were perfectly good if you hadn't already got the leading contenders--Stephen Hough or Jean-Marie Darre (EMI) in both, or Benjamin Grosvenor if you just wanted No 2. The same reservations apply to this volume, but slightly less so.

Saint-Saens's Third Concerto is, like the First, woefully underplayed and underrated. It is in the traditional three-movement fast-slow-fast format but, within that, what a wealth of originality is found, beginning with the succession of rippling piano arpeggios which opens the first movement. These give way to a subject that, as Dominic Wells observes in his succinct and informative booklet, 'bears more than a passing resemblance to the opening theme of Schubert's Ninth Symphony'. Then turn to the harmonically adventurous second movement and its ambiguous tonality, and the boisterous pyrotechnics of the finale. What is there not to like?

There's no avoiding the fact that Hough and Darre revel in Saint-Saens's pianistic joie de vivre more overtly than Romain Descharmes. …

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