Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Tapiola Sinfonietta have championed the music of Saint-Saëns on a series of acclaimed discs, and are now joined by the young Alexandre Kantorow –son of the conductor – for a survey of his works for piano and orchestra. In 1858, Saint-Saëns became the first major French composer to write a piano concerto, but on this first disc of two the Kantorows present the three last concertos. Composed over a period of almost 30 years (1868 – 1896), these are highly individual works: Piano Concerto No. 3 is a bold attempt to reconcile Classical form with a Lisztian pianistic brio, No. 4 employs an unusual formal scheme in which themes are reused in a cyclic manner and, finally, the ‘Egyptian’ (No. 5), named after the second movement, which in the composer’s own words describes ‘a sort of Eastern journey that goes all the way to the Far East’.
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Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
1–3. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 29
4–5. Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, Op. 44
6–8. Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 'L'Égyptien'