A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare

SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)

COMPLETE PIANO WORKS • 1

COMPLETE PIANO ÉTUDES


  • Geoffrey Burleson, piano

A seminal figure of French Romantic music, Camille Saint-Saëns was also a great keyboard prodigy. The Études, Op. 52 unite exuberant virtuosity with shimmering delicacy, while the Six Études, Op. 111 pay homage to Chopin and Bach as well as anticipating Ravel’s impressionism. The neo-Baroque Op. 135, for left hand alone, is modelled on Couperin and Rameau. This title is the first volume of a series that brings together everything from Saint-Saëns’ spellbinding three sets of études to first recordings of transcriptions and other works.

Visit the ALBUM MINI-SITE

Tracklist

 
6 Études, Op. 52 (1877) (00:14:00 )
1
No. 1. Prelude: Con bravura (00:02:31)
2
No. 2. Pour l'independence des doigts: Andantino malinconico (00:03:03)
3
No. 3. Prelude and Fugue in F Minor: Prelude: Allegro (00:02:31)
4
No. 3. Prelude and Fugue in F Minor: Fugue: Animato (00:02:07)
5
No. 4. Etude de rythme: Andantino (00:03:09)
6
No. 5. Prelude and Fugue in A Minor: Prelude: Allegro moderato (00:02:39)
7
No. 5. Prelude and Fugue in A Minor: Fugue: Moderato (00:04:20)
8
No. 6. En Forme de Valse (00:06:42)
 
6 Études, Op. 111 (1899) (00:10:00 )
9
No. 1. Tierces majeures et mineures: Allegretto (00:02:31)
10
No. 2. Traits chromatiques (00:02:30)
11
No. 3. Prelude and Fugue: Prelude: Moderato agitato (00:01:37)
12
No. 3. Prelude and Fugue: Fugue: Moderato espressivo (00:03:39)
13
No. 4. Les Cloches de Las Palmas: Andantino (00:04:01)
14
No. 5. Tierces majeures chromatiques (00:02:36)
15
No. 6. Toccata d'apres le Final du cinquieme Concerto: Molto allegro (00:04:27)
 
6 Etudes, Op. 135 (1912) (00:13:00 )
16
No. 1. Prelude: Allegretto moderato (00:02:25)
17
No. 2. Alla Fuga: Allegro non troppo (00:01:57)
18
No. 3. Moto perpetuo: Allegretto-Doux et tranquille (00:02:32)
19
No. 4. Bourree: Molto allegro (00:04:08)
20
No. 5. Elegie: Poco adagio (00:05:54)
21
No. 6. Gigue: Presto (00:02:08)
Total Time: 01:07:27

The Artist

Burleson, Geoffrey

Geoffrey Burleson has performed to wide acclaim throughout Europe and North america, and is equally active as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician and jazz performer. His numerous solo appearances include prominent venues in Paris, New York, Rome, Athens, Mexico City, Rotterdam, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Switzerland, England, Spain, and elsewhere.

The Composer

Once described as the French Mendelssohn, Camille Saint-Saëns was talented and precocious as a child, with interests by no means confined to music. He made an early impression as a pianist. Following established French tradition, he was for nearly 20 years organist at the Madeleine in Paris and taught briefly at the École Niedermeyer, where he befriended his pupil Gabriel Fauré. He was a co-founder of the important Société Nationale de Musique with the patriotic aim of promoting contemporary French music in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-01, in which he had served in the Garde Nationale de la Seine. Prolific and versatile as a composer, he contributed to most genres of music, but by the time of his death in 1921 his popularity in France had diminished considerably, as fashions in music had changed.

Operas

The best known of the 13 operas completed by Saint-Saëns is Samson et Dalila, a romantic treatment of the biblical story. His pastiche dances from the unhistorical opera Henry VIII may also be heard in concert performance.

Vocal and Choral Music

Saint-Saëns wrote a number of sacred and secular choral works and made a considerable contribution to the body of French solo song.

Orchestral Music

The ‘Organ’ Symphony—the third of the three numbered symphonies by Saint-Saëns, so named from the use of the instrument in the work—is the best known. Other popular orchestral works include Le Rouet d’Omphale (‘Omphale’s Wheel’) and Danse macabre.

Saint-Saëns, a fine pianist himself, wrote five piano concertos, three violin concertos and two cello concertos. Both the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and Havanaise are familiar in the repertoire for violin and orchestra.

Chamber Music

Saint-Saëns was equally prolific in his provision of chamber music, with a series of duo sonatas, including two violin sonatas, two cello sonatas and a variety of other pieces. The Carnival of the Animals, often heard in more expanded form, was originally a private joke for the enjoyment of his friends.

Organ and Piano Music

Saint-Saëns, distinguished as a pianist and organist, wrote for both instruments, as well as for the harmonium. His organ music includes the Fantaisie in E flat, his first such composition and among the most popular with recitalists.

Reviews

“‘Les cloches de Las Palmas’ is surprisingly haunting and evocative…and the Toccata from the Fifth Piano Concerto provides a truly dazzling finish to the set.” – Gramophone

“Only a brilliant piano technician can perform these 18 knuckle-busters, and Burleson is such a pianist…his ability and stamina to get through these and make music out of them is nothing short of amazing. ” – American Record Guide

“Burleson, noted for his set of Roy Harris’s complete piano music on Naxos, handles the technical hurdles with aplomb in superbly polished performances.” – Culture Catch

“The influences on the 18 pieces are quite different, and Burleson does well in showcasing the differentiation. These pieces…explore piano techniques skillfully while offering listeners more-substantial involvement than études usually do.” – Infodad.com

“The American pianist, Geoffrey Burleson, obviously enjoys the music, often bringing a feel of mischievous humour, particularly to the third book. ” – David Denton

“Hats off! Anyone who is seriously interested in piano music should check out Grand Piano for an extended test drive in their home CD player.” – The Listener