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Camille Saint-Saëns

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--- Quote from: D Minor on April 12, 2007, 04:11:55 AM ---Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a remarkable composer.  Among his credits:

1. Saint-Saens has been described as the “French Mendelssohn”
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This is a good thing, right? After all, I once knew the Georgian Mendelssohn....


--- Quote from: lukeottevanger on April 12, 2007, 04:45:35 AM ---This is a good thing, right? After all, I once knew the Georgian Mendelssohn....

--- End quote ---

In the Third Reich they said "that Jew Mendelssohn"

Wasn't everybody who wrote music after Mendelssohn, but not before, considered Mendelssohnian?

S-S wrote Suite Algerienne because he often visited the country and not for his health, if you get my drift.

The orchestral suite was popular in France at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries because, it has been suggested, the French were scared of the symphony!

Think of them: Milhaud, Ravel, Debussy, wrote orchestral suites!

Michel's enthusiastic embrace of Saint-Saëns First Piano Concerto (I don't know it nearly as well as the beloved Second Piano Concerto):

What great stuff Saint-Saen's Piano Concerto No.1 in D Major is!

I am certain it is under-rated. To me, it sounds like a mixture of Tchaikovskian orchestral melodies, and Beethovian rhythm, structure and dynamics (one thinks of his 2nd and 3rd). The oscillation between moments of solo or moderately accompanied virtuosity and the orchestra, with abundant clarity and precision, remind me structurally of Beethoven's 3rd. In short, there is what there is in all Beethoven's piano concertos: a magnificent balance between piano and orchestra.

It also seems ludicrous to suggest, as some critics have, that Saint-Saens lacked profundity and so on. Not only, of course, is it completely idiotic to suggest that good music must have profundity, but I think it is completely false if one looks at the 2nd movement of the 1st Piano Concerto with its slow, tired negativity that echoes Beethoven - this time the 2nd movement of the 7th Sonata. Certainly, I think this slow movement is less brilliant than Beethoven's majestic subtly - some may even call it insincere - but the emotional depth is, I think, still there loud and clear.

Even taken as a whole, this D Major concerto somewhat mirrors Beethoven’s 3rd (and arguably the 5th) as it has a very dominant theme in the first movement, outward looking and at times celebratory, followed by a far more insular and intimate second movement, ended by a real memorable and indulgent blast. I am sure I once read that Saint-Saens is sometimes compared to Beethoven, and this early PC certainly illustrates that argument well.

One other observation is the use of staccato in places in the final movement that I haven't previously noticed (repeated also in his PC2 first movement rather significantly). Saint-Saens injects a Prokofieven jovialness into this movement, but is then peculiarly - though interestingly - contrasted by an almost hideously dreamy and repetitive piano melody reminiscent of a later Rachmaninov (like the ghastly Rach 3!). But what this does show, I think, is that Saint-Saens was a marvellously talented composer; echoing the past whilst predating that which followed, and writing music of subtlely, depth and sophistication that as a compliment is so ofen denied. This first piano concerto, whatever is weaknesses, is a piece of music underappreciated by, it seems, a really great number of classical music "fans".

What do you think of this Piano Concerto, or his other piano concertos, or his other work in general?


--- Quote from: Hector on April 12, 2007, 06:06:04 AM ---Wasn't everybody who wrote music after Mendelssohn, but not before, considered Mendelssohnian?

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That was, until everyone became Elgarian  ;D


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