Friday, September 30, 2011

Saint-Saëns - Piano Concerto No. 5 'Egyptian'

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a French composer, organist and pianist. He was a child prodigy composing his first piece when 4 years old. His first public recital was when he was 10 years old when he played Mozart's Piano Concerto No.15 along with other pieces by Bach, Handel, Hummel and others.  For an encore he offered to play any of the 32 Beethoven sonatas from memory.  His precociousness did not end with music, for he learned how to read and write by the time he was three.  He also studied and wrote about geology, acoustics, archeology, botany and many other scientific subjects as well as history.

He once said of himself,  "I produce music the way an apple tree produces apples."  He was one of the most naturally gifted musicians that ever lived, and his seemingly easy facility for composing lead some to criticize his lack of feeling in some of his compositions.  There is a natural virtuosity to a lot of his music, whether it is as lacking in emotion as some contend is a matter of taste.

He wrote five piano concertos and various other pieces for piano and orchestra. Piano concerto No. 5 got the nickname 'Egyptian' because he wrote most of it while traveling in Egypt, and because the work (specifically the 2nd movement) was influenced by Middle-East, Spanish and Javanese music he heard on his travels. Saint-Saëns himself played the premiere of the work in 1896 at a concert that commemorated the 50th anniversary of his debut in 1846.

1 comment:

  1. The Saint-Saens Fifth Piano concerto is an absolutely beautiful work and it is amazing that it is not played more often in the concert hall. This was a superb performance, with everyone fully involved with illuminating this gorgeous score. Certainly Saint-Saens Fifth Piano Concerto would be a welcome replacement for the overplayed Rachmaninoff Third or even the Tchaikovsky First. Thank you for posting this fine performance of a too rarely heard masterpiece.

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