A seminal figure in the history of French Romantic music, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was also one of the greatest keyboard prodigies of the past 200 years.
When he made his piano recital debut at the age of 10 in the Salle Pleyel, he announced to the audience that he would be pleased to perform any of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas as an encore. A good deal later, Liszt referred to him as the greatest organist on earth. Saint-Saëns was a prolific composer in all genres, and thus it is not at all surprising that he created a bountiful body of works for both organ and piano.
Not only was Camille Saint-Saëns a piano virtuoso, eulogised by Liszt amongst many others, but he was one of the most exciting and imaginative of composers for the instrument. He enjoyed taking baroque and classical forms and translating them into his own brand of romantic language, qualities that Geoffrey Burleson explores so adroitly in this second volume of the complete piano music.
His Six Fugues, Op. 161 are masterly and complex character studies, devoid of academic leanings, whilst his famous Allegro Appassionato, Op. 70 possesses brilliance and lyrical depth. The Thême Varié, Op. 97 is witty and explosive, the Suite, Op. 90 full of charm, and the Allegro, Op. 29 possessed of dazzling breadth.