Camille Saint-Saëns was what a true child prodigy: he was not only a composer and conductor, but also a pianist, organist, playwright, critic and physicist, and was even an accomplished travel writer.
His 2nd piano concerto, the ‘symphonic concerto’, gives the soloist a dramatic role, interweaves subdued influences of Bach with virtuoso passages, and treats the audience to a sparkling finale.
The concerto is thus a considerable challenge for the concert pianist, but right up the alley of the skilful hands of Nicholas Angelich. He can also be considered a child prodigy: he made his debut at the age of only 7 with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21, and is today one of the world’s top soloists.
Yet another of Sain-Saëns talents was the speed with which he wrote – and that was a skill that came in handy when the renowned Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein came to Paris in 1868 for a series of concerts and decided to use the occasion to make his debut as a conductor. He asked his good friend Saint-Saëns, as a soloist and composer, to provide a concerto barely three weeks later...
Saint-Saëns got to work, and 17 days later delivered his 2nd Piano Concerto. That did not leave much time to rehearse, and Saint-Saëns was unsatisfied with the première. And yet the piano concerto has become one of his most popular and most often played works.
Apart from being a great composer, Camille Saint-Saëns was apparently a talented pianist as well. Just look at his fingers that move over the keys in a swift and virtuous but elegant manner.watch the video
In March 2021, Brussels Philharmonic welcomed Nicholas Angelich for Saint-Saëns' 5th Piano Concerto: (re)watch a fragment of the livestream concert.watch the video
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