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Saint-Saëns: Complete Works for Piano
Camille Saint-Saens, Jörg Faerber, Württemberg Chamber Orchestra
Saint-Saëns: Complete Works for Piano
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #4
  •  Track Listings (28) - Disc #5

This series of Saint-Saëns' piano music, recorded in 1974, will be of interest to the composer's admirers, but it's not likely to win any awards. Most of the music consists of glittering generalities, with few memorable mo...  more »

      
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This series of Saint-Saëns' piano music, recorded in 1974, will be of interest to the composer's admirers, but it's not likely to win any awards. Most of the music consists of glittering generalities, with few memorable moments and a lot of padding. Saint-Saëns had inspirations, but he didn't waste many of them on his solo piano music. In the few cases when a piece has become familiar, we can tell that Dosse's performances are mostly just adequate, seldom exciting or insightful. She gets around the keys well enough, and the last of the Six Etudes (based on the composer's own Fifth Piano Concerto) is pretty dazzling, but elsewhere she seems to be just going through the motions. The solo piano music, recorded by the wonderful Elite team of Nickrenz & Aubort, has splendid sound quality. But the duets, recorded in Stuttgart, sound boxy and flat--except for "Carnival of the Animals," with the sparkling chamber orchestra. This certainly isn't a bad set, but it's only a compelling purchase for lovers of this composer who can't get enough of his piano music. Well, now they can. --Leslie Gerber
 

CD Reviews

Proto-Modern Music
05/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Saint-Saens didn't believe that music must express deep emotion to be worthwhile. He was more interested in beautiful surfaces than in profundity. The composer's aesthetic, which might be described as "decorative," justifies certain limitations and is not all that different from Milhaud's or Poulenc's, although the musical idiom is more 19th century than 20th century.

Because this is a "complete works" set of CDs, the quality of the compositions is predictably uneven. Several of the many pieces included are too protracted, formulaic and even dull, but few are without any interest. Almost all seem impersonal and dispassionate. That said, much of the music is lovely, frequently colorful and occasionally dazzling. Saint-Saens' piano writing is almost always transparent, elegant, ironic and wry. Some pieces, like the Scherzo for Two Pianos (which is organized as a palindrome), the Valse Gaie and the Etude en Forme de Valse, are stunning mixtures of modern musical language and traditional gestures. There is truly no other music like this.

Admirers of French music are fortunate that Vox decided to reissue these performances, which range from adequate to excellent."
Apollo AND Dionysus
Dace Gisclard | Houston, TX | 08/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is delightful stuff! Nothing "profound" here (what a dreadful sin, Mr. Gerber!) but plenty of this composer's mix of the playful and the intellectual. True, there are a few pieces (the fugues and some of the more mechanically-oriented etudes) that are academic note-spinning, but there's lots more that aren't. It's perfectly OK to like and enjoy this kind of elegant fluff--does EVERYTHING have to be a heaven-storming masterpiece? People who think that miss an awful lot. If you like Bizet (but don't expect Carmen!) and Chabrier, this will appeal to you.

Saint-Saens was one of the greatest pianists of his time, and certainly knew his way around a keyboard. Marylene Dosse has the technique and temperament to do this music justice. The remastered analog sound is NOT terrible--perhaps a bit shallow and not state of the art digital, but quite easily listenable. I certainly don't hear the "bumps and pops" alluded to by another reviewer--can't imagine what's going on there.

Highlights of the set that I particularly enjoy: the two-piano Beethoven Variations on the trio of the menuet of the Piano Sonata Op.31 No.3 (the pianos sound in tune to me, although someone with perfect pitch might find them a few cents off!); the Allegro appassionato and the Etude en forme de valse--two standard classics that every lover of French piano music should know; the transcription and abridgement for piano solo of the first movement of Piano Concerto No.3 (with the orchestral parts absorbed into the piano); the last of the Etudes Op.111 where the composer reworks material from his Piano Concerto No.5 into a brilliant toccata.

At this price, this set is a steal, and, as Mr. Crawford said, a nice companion for the piano concertos (I'm particularly fond of Collard--Hough is a bit too much of a speed demon on the autobahn, looking neither to the right nor left to see the beauties just within sight.)"
Marylene Dosse truly makes the piano sparkle
Matthew | New York | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a collection rare to come across: the complete piano works by Saint-Saens. As a native of France, Ms. Dosse accomplishes the nearly impossible task of recording the entirety of this difficult french repertoire. Her masterful understand of the music is apparently throughout every piece and her musicality extends far past that of many of the great pianists. In addition to the extraordinary playing, the set is marvelously priced. This is a set to add to your collection."