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Published on Apr 7, 2008
Saint-Saëns is a well-known composer. In the nineteenth century he was also well-known as a virtuoso pianist, ranked alongside giants such as Liszt, Clara Schumann, Pugno, Pachmann, Planté, Grieg and Rubinstein. Fortunately, a few performances of his have been preserved on early records. These demonstrate a quite astounding virtuosity in the classic nineteenth century French style (crisp, cultured, refined, charming and without as much rubato as the German school).
Amazingly, even though he was getting quite old by the time he recorded, there is no apparent lack of technique or interpretative quality in the recordings (unlike, for example, and unfortunately, the recordings of his great contemporary Francis Planté).
The recordings of Saint-Saëns are important as Saint-Saëns has the honour of being the oldest pianist to record at all. Sadly he was restricted to mostly salon-style works in his recordings, and he only recorded his own works. What we would give for a little Liszt or Chopin...
This recording is of a slightly adapted opening of Saint-Saëns's own second piano concerto op.22 in G minor. The playing is wonderful.