Notes and Editorial Reviews
Having already mastered such French concertos as Poulenc’s on record, the French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie and Edward Gardner now explore with the BBC Philharmonic the vigorous and progressive world of Camille Saint-Saëns, offering the first of two volumes to contain his complete piano concertos. The brilliance, virtuosity, and technical perfection of Louis Lortie’s playing encapsulate these unusual, yet exhilarating works. While the spirited, unconventional Concerto No. 1 centers around a slow movement consisting of a dialogue between the sober orchestra and virtuosic piano, the technical requirements of No. 2 are so high that Saint-Saëns himself after its premiere admitted that his fluent technique was not quite up to the
challenge. Finally, the unusual form and mixed musical ideas of No. 4 make for a uniquely dramatic, passionate, and dream-like experience.
In the finale of the composer's popular G Minor Concerto, Lortie and Gardner move the dialog along, girded by tympanic impulses, until the swirl culminates once more into the titanic urgency of the tarantula’s bite. Zest and pure bravura mark every measure of this dexterous piece, and the musicians offer a superb overall reading of the work that ranks with the finest. Reserve shelf space for this release alongside those by Rubinstein, Sokolov, and Gilels.
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