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Let's hope that we pianists celebrate this long-lived but unknown wink composer this year with all due irreverence. Forget his zoological fantasy, forget even that long-necked bird; in fact, let's also leave his Organ Symphony whose Big Tune was once Top of the Pops, and his concertos (as we can't afford to hire an orchestra to indulge our fantasies).

Unfortunately, he didn't leave us any nice piano sonatas we can sink our collective teeth into (his Op.111 scales the heights of, er, finger busting rather than the heavens), and his once-popular Étude en forme de valse is best left to those who enjoy athletic pursuits.

Instead, beg, borrow or steal a compliant clarinettist, oboist, bassoonist, cellist or violinist, and revel in his wonderful chamber music instead.

This has always been one of my favorite violin sonatas, and I have fond memories of hacking my way through it with a violinist friend in my student days, when the final pages turned into a hilarious madcap scramble..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snpwCZLkAK0

Incidentally, his piano trios, quartet and quintet are also beautiful but rarely played.


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I love the Oboe Sonata! And I've always wanted to learn the 6 fugues... Maybe I should start this year!

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The oboe sonata is great and a lot of fun to play - I'm actually working it right now with an oboist for an audition. The clarinet sonata is also a lot of fun. Haven't tried the bassoon sonata yet, nor any of the string sonatas, but I'm sure they're delightful as well.


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I have been stumbling through op, 85, Les Cloches du Soir, a short, intermediate level piece which is very nice.


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Alas his interest wasn't in big solo piano works, although Bizet made a good pianosolo of his 2nd concerto, I play the Rhapsodie d'Auvergne (solo) and the Allegro Appassionato op.70 and the Thème Varié op.97, quite fun, and a few of the etudes are good encores ('en forme de valse' op.56 and 'toccata d'après concerto 5' op.111). His first pianotrio, cellosonata and violinsonata are also current.


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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Alas his interest wasn't in big solo piano works, although Bizet made a good pianosolo of his 2nd concerto, I play the Rhapsodie d'Auvergne (solo) and the Allegro Appassionato op.70 and the Thème Varié op.97, quite fun, and a few of the etudes are good encores ('en forme de valse' op.56 and 'toccata d'après concerto 5' op.111). His first pianotrio, cellosonata and violinsonata are also current.
That caught me off guard. Was Bizet a good enough pianist that he could play the 2nd Concerto?


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Originally Posted by J Joe Townley
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Alas his interest wasn't in big solo piano works, although Bizet made a good pianosolo of his 2nd concerto, I play the Rhapsodie d'Auvergne (solo) and the Allegro Appassionato op.70 and the Thème Varié op.97, quite fun, and a few of the etudes are good encores ('en forme de valse' op.56 and 'toccata d'après concerto 5' op.111). His first pianotrio, cellosonata and violinsonata are also current.
That caught me off guard. Was Bizet a good enough pianist that he could play the 2nd Concerto?

From Wikipedia:
"During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public."

So - YES he was probably good enough to play the 2nd Concerto, but even if he wasn't he was certainly was a good enough composer to arrange it for solo piano.


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I’ve played his cello sonata in C minor - fantastic piece!!

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I've attempted the Saint-Saens etude op. 52 no. 4 (The polyrhythmic etude) but it didn't go well for me, partially because it felt awkward having my two hands touch together.

Also, forget his piano concerti? Never. Only the 2nd Concerto of Saint-Saens enjoys widespread popularity. The 5th "Egyptian" comes close. The 4th declined into near-oblivion as of late, although a long time ago it rivaled the 2nd in popularity.

The 1st Concerto and the 3rd Concerto are sorely neglected. The 1st Concerto in particular is phenomenal. That concerto is symbolism of the Fontainbleau Forest.


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I have always loved this famous yet under- respected - in - serious - circles composer. The man had one of the most active and impactful (and enigmatic) lives in the history of composers. Like Rachmaninoff, you will rarely see him given much due in Music Appreciation/History Textbooks, simply because he didn't break enough new ground.

A personal favorite is this etude:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXkF0gAqkdw

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A poster above mentioned his Piano Concertos.
It is almost criminal that his 5th Concerto (Egyptian) isn’t played more. It is a spectacular concerto, and should be in the top ten (or 15!) list of the greatest romantic concertos.

Last edited by Petoskeyguy; 01/26/21 09:09 AM.
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Originally Posted by Petoskeyguy
A poster above mentioned his Piano Concertos.
Yep that was me.

Originally Posted by Petoskeyguy
It is almost criminal that his 5th Concerto (Egyptian) isn’t played more. It is a spectacular concerto, and should be in the top ten (or 15!) list of the greatest romantic concertos.

Speaking of piano concerti written by Saint-Saëns, he also wrote a cadenza (rarely-played-now) for a piano concerto by another composer - his initials are LvB.

I believe Guiomar Novaes used it in most of her performances, and Arthur Rubinstein also played it once in a 1947 concert with Beecham. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56EBAA6qp4A

(The fourth piano concerto of Beethoven; with Saint-Saëns' s playfully elfish cadenza)


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Originally Posted by iaintagreatpianist
Speaking of piano concerti written by Saint-Saëns, he also wrote a cadenza (rarely-played-now) for a piano concerto by another composer - his initials are LvB.

I believe Guiomar Novaes used it in most of her performances, and Arthur Rubinstein also played it once in a 1947 concert with Beecham. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56EBAA6qp4A

(The fourth piano concerto of Beethoven; with Saint-Saëns' s playfully elfish cadenza)
I didn't like like that cadenza either as piece of music or in terms of its style fitting in with the rest of the piece. OTOH I just heard a piano and cello performance of The Swan used in a scene in the movie Radioactive(bio of Marie Curie) and thought it was amazing even though I've heard it many times.

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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by J Joe Townley
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Alas his interest wasn't in big solo piano works, although Bizet made a good pianosolo of his 2nd concerto, I play the Rhapsodie d'Auvergne (solo) and the Allegro Appassionato op.70 and the Thème Varié op.97, quite fun, and a few of the etudes are good encores ('en forme de valse' op.56 and 'toccata d'après concerto 5' op.111). His first pianotrio, cellosonata and violinsonata are also current.
That caught me off guard. Was Bizet a good enough pianist that he could play the 2nd Concerto?

From Wikipedia:
"During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public."

So - YES he was probably good enough to play the 2nd Concerto, but even if he wasn't he was certainly was a good enough composer to arrange it for solo piano.

I got the score to this some years ago - as might be expected, it's very difficult. Nikolai Petrov made a bit of a specialty of this arrangement, and recorded it.

https://youtu.be/ToYbmSH80uc
https://youtu.be/u5x47CIPjko
https://youtu.be/xxL-VWARzl4


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