1868: Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, age 32

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
  • strings

Dmitry Shishkin

1st movement

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.

2nd movement

The second movement is in E-flat major and resembles a scherzo.

3rd movement

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.

Famous quote

Zygmunt Stojowski quipped:

“begins with Bach and ends with Offenbach.”



2 thoughts on “1868: Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, age 32

  1. This was wonderful, full of excitement. Definitely not conservative. Some pianists are able to express what they are feeling through their playing. He is one of them. I felt the urge to stand up and applaud along with the audience.

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