Saint-Saëns, C.: Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 5: Rarities and Transcriptions

Artists

Geoffrey Burleson, piano

Tracks

1-2. 2 Bagatelles (1858)* [4:44]
3. Antwort (1866)* [3:06]
4. Fantaisie sur le Quintette de 'L'Étoile du Nord' de Meyerbeer (1858)* [4:59]
5. Valse du 'Prophète' de Meyerbeer (1857)* [5:53]
6. Fantaisie sur 'Lohengrin' de Wagner (1859) *[7:49]
7. Chœur des Derviches Tourneurs Tiré Des 'Ruines D'Athènes' de Beethoven (1869) [2:36]
8. Paraphrase sur 'Gallia' de Gounod (1871)* [8:54]
9. Scherzo sur 'Les Pécheurs de Perles' de Bizet (1886)* [9:13]
10. La Mort de Thaïs - Paraphrase de Concert sur L'Opéra de Massenet (1895)
11. Improvisation sur la Beethoven-Cantate de Liszt (1870)* [11:59]
12. Africa, Op. 89 (version for solo piano) (1891) [11:32]

*world premiere recordings

Total Playing Time: 01:18:10

About Saint-Saëns, C.: Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 5: Rarities and Transcriptions

The eight world premiere recordings included in this programme are played from a treasure trove of unpublished manuscripts obtained by Geoffrey Burleson from the Bibliothèque national de France, each of them filled with strong and imaginative ideas. Further virtuosic rarities by Saint-Saëns include a solo transcription of his exotic Africa for piano and orchestra, and fantasies on works by Beethoven, Gounod, Liszt, Bizet and others.

"Burleson has a treasure trove of unpublished manuscripts from the the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This, his fifth volume of the French master's piano works, is certainly the most interesting from a musicological perspective. We are fortunate that he has all of the technical and musical abilities to bring these very difficult works off. There is a lot of flashy writing here, along the beautiful opera melodies cloaked in filigree all over the keyboard that anyone acquainted with some of Liszt's works in this genre will expect. The extensive and informative booklet essay is important with so many unpublished works in first recordings. This is an absolute must for anyone interested in Saint-Saëns or romantic virtuosic piano music. The piano sound is exceptionally good."
-James Harrington, American Record Guide

 

 

 

Saint-Saëns, C.: Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 5:  Rarities and Transcriptions - Naxos, Catalogue No: GP626, released on 09/2019

Naxos, Catalogue No: GP626, released on 09/2019

Order online: "Saint-Saëns, C.: Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 5: Rarities and Transcriptions"

Praise for Saint-Saëns, C.: Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 5: Rarities and Transcriptions

"Burleson has a treasure trove of unpublished manuscripts from the the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This, his fifth volume of the French master's piano works, is certainly the most interesting from a musicological perspective. We are fortunate that he has all of the technical and musical abilities to bring these very difficult works off. There is a lot of flashy writing here, along the beautiful opera melodies cloaked in filigree all over the keyboard that anyone acquainted with some of Liszt's works in this genre will expect. The extensive and informative booklet essay is important with so many unpublished works in first recordings. This is an absolute must for anyone interested in Saint-Saëns or romantic virtuosic piano music. The piano sound is exceptionally good."
-James Harrington, American Record Guide

 

"The shape of the Saint-Saëns achieved sublime results. The mysticism of the Thaïs paraphrase came like vapor out of the famous “Méditation,” leading to Gounod’s reaction to the destruction of the Franco-Prussian War, via Saint-Saëns's Paraphrase sur 'Gallia' de Gounod.  The original, haunting choral work was transformed by Saint-Saëns into a somber, focused lamentation. Burleson had the right measure of this, channeling the emotions with a focus that gave them a richness and cutting edge."
-George Grella, New York Classical Review

 

"I first read of the existence of the transcription of the ‘Chorus of the Dervishes’ from Beethoven’s ‘Ruins of Athens’ in the cover notes for one of Leslie Howard’s Hyperion Liszt CDs but I’d never heard it until this recording.  This is a short and ferociously difficult little piece which works tremendously well for piano - and the recording and playing are first rate. The creepy, supernatural elements in it come across especially well here. Next is a fantasy on a work by Gounod who apparently wrote twelve operas in total, including the famous Faust for which he is primarily remembered.  Here, Saint-Saëns constructs a fantasy on his motet ‘Gallia’ which dates from the same year as the work was premiered. I’d never heard of it before but the themes which Saint-Saëns uses are very interesting and create a rather splendid virtuoso showpiece full of interesting key changes and some tricky passagework for the pianist.  The central part about five minutes in is more restrained and provides the pianist with a chance to play some really beautiful melodies which he does perfectly. There are again some very Lisztian touches, especially towards the end as the piece grows to a victorious conclusion. I do really like it, as it is full of interest for the listener and shines a light into a little-known work by Gounod which appears to have been recorded only once. Track 9 is based on the ‘Scherzo’ from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers and dates from later on in Saint-Saëns life, around the time of the famous Organ Symphony.  This is again Lisztian in tone at the beginning and rattles along at a tremendous pace with lots of repeated notes for the pianist which are dispatched here with considerable aplomb.  The central variation part is more restrained at least in terms of volume and contains playing which is both delicate and brilliant - it really sounds here as if Mr. Burleson is having a great time playing this piece.  It is a marvellous work and really deserves to be heard more often; I can’t believe something this fun has lain undiscovered in a vault for over a century. All the difficulties are superbly dispatched here and the work is as splendid as the pianism.Last is Saint-Saëns’s solo piano version of his completely barmy ‘Africa’ Fantasy, Op.89, much more familiar in the piano and orchestral version.  I’ve always liked this work for its totally over-the-top virtuosity and joie de vivre.  Here, all the orchestral details are expertly integrated into a solo piano work of extreme difficulty which Mr. Burleson negotiates skilfully.  There is no let-up in the virtuosity in the eleven and a half minutes with repeated notes, runs, tremelandos, rapid leaps and scalic passages all creating a brilliant fantasy.  The piece starts seriously in G minor and gradually changes to G major by means of some interesting key changes and includes references to the Tunisian National Anthem and other suitably geographically located tunes.  It is marvellous and excellently played – I like this just as much as the piano and orchestral version.  This is a marvellous recording, with interesting and informative cover notes by Mr. Burleson himself and excellent recording quality. Once again, the pianist Geoffrey Burleson has made a super job of these obscure and interesting works."
-Jonathan Welsh, MusicWeb International