THURSDAY, December 3, 2020 – 1:00 AM
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, age 32
This piano concerto has been a crowd pleaser for a very long time, but to show it off it needs a really strong performance, and I believe I found one.
- solo piano
- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
- 2 horns, 2 trumpets
- timpani, crash cymbals
- I. Andante sostenuto (in G minor)
- II. Allegro scherzando (in Eb major)
- III. Presto (in G minor – G major)
The concerto begins with a piano solo playing a long improvisational introduction in the style of a Bach fantasia. After the orchestra enters, the restless and melancholy first theme is played, again by the piano solo. Saint-Saëns drew the theme from his student Gabriel Fauré’s abandoned Tantum ergo motet. The Bach-like opening motif returns in the coda.
The second movement is in E-flat major and resembles a scherzo.
The concerto concludes by returning to G minor. It is a fiery saltarella.
Written quickly and not played well
Saint-Saëns wrote the concerto in three weeks and had very little time to prepare for the première; consequently, the piece was not initially successful.
Zygmunt Stojowski quipped:
“begins with Bach and ends with Offenbach.”