Camille SAINT-SAňNS (1835-1921)
Complete works for cello
Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 (1872) [19:58]
Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 119 (1902) [18:43]
Cello Sonata No.2 in F major, Op.123 (1905) [38:21]
Cello Sonata No.1 in C minor, Op.32 (1872) [20:53]
Romance in F major for cello and piano, Op. 36 (1874) [3:13]
Romance in D major for cello and piano, Op. 51 (1877) [3:14]
Allegro appassionato for cello and piano, Op. 43 (1873)
The Swan from: The Carnival of the Animals
arranged cello and piano [3:05]
Chant Saphique for cello and piano [4:52] (1892)
Gavotte for cello and piano, Op. Posth. [3:04]
Suite in D minor for cello and piano, Op. 16 (1862-66) [25:59]
Luigi Piovano (cello)
Orchestra del Teatro Marrucino/Piero Bellugi (Op. 33 and Op. 119)
Nazzareno Carusi, piano (Op. 123)
Luisa Prayer, piano (CD 2)
rec. live, Teatro Marrucino, Chieti, Italy (Op. 33 and 119); Studio
Fonoprint, Bologna, Italy (Op. 123); December 2003, La Ribattola,
Sarteano, Siena, Italy (CD 2)
ELOQUENTIA EL 1024 [76:06 + 68:42]
The cellist Luigi Piovano has chosen to record a double CD set
of eleven works by Camille Saint-SaŽns. For a collection
laying claim to presenting the complete works for cello the
PriŤre for cello and organ (arranged for cello and piano),
Op.158 (1919) should have been included.
Piovano is the first cello soloist of the Orchestra dell'Accademia
Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome and the first guest cello soloist
of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to his activities
as a cello soloist Piovano is also becoming increasingly involved
with conducting. He founded the Orchestra da Camera della Campania
now known as Musici Aurei.
On this Eloquentia release Piovano performs using a Matteo
Goffriller (circa 1730), for the Cello Sonata No.2 an
Alessandro Gagliano (circa 1710) and the other scores a 1935
Arthur Fracassi from Cesena. I couldnít understand the information
given in the booklet about the instruments used by the two pianists.
During his career Saint-SaŽnsís wrote a number of scores for
the cello, an instrument that he greatly admired. Inexplicably,
with the exception of Cello Concerto No. 1 and the popular
The Swan these scores are rarely heard which is a shame
is given the high quality of craftsmanship.
The opening work is the Cello Concerto No. 1, generally
accepted as the finest of Saint-SaŽnsís two concertos. It is
rightly regarded as one of the best loved in the repertoire.
It is sunny, colourful and compact and plays continuously across
three distinct sections. Here Piovano provides a yearning dignified
quality with noticeably impressive dynamics shifts.
The Cello Concerto No. 2 was composed in 1902 some thirty
years after the First. The two movement score was intended for
the Dutch cellist Joseph Hollmann. Although providing the soloist
with considerable technical challenges the themes in the Second
Concerto are unmemorable and consequently the work
has been regarded with less favour. Piovano in the Allegro
moderato e maestoso displays an impressive Legato with
a deep rich timbre. Thereís brisk playing in the Allegro
non troppo with splendid technical control.
Completed in 1905 the Cello Sonata No.2 is somewhat less
regarded than the C minor Sonata, its predecessor
by over thirty years. This four movement score contains a detailed
set of Variations. At nearly forty minutes this sonata
is the lengthiest score on the disc. A turbulent opening movement
includes a sunny and calm central passage. The brisk and vivacious
Scherzo with variations just scurries along without a
care in the world. Attractive and appealing, the Romance
acts like a passionate love letter tinged with a slight undercurrent
of regret. The movement would make a lovely stand-alone recital
piece. The final high-spirited movement is infused with engaging
The impressive three movement Cello Sonata No.1 was written
in 1872 the same year as the A minor Cello Concerto.
At the time of writing the fateful Franco-Prussian war was still
in the memory and this darkly coloured score could easily be
said to reflect the pain and anguish that Saint-SaŽnsís experienced
as a result of the conflict. Piovano provides a stormy and resolute
opening movement followed by a stately abd elegantly textured
Andante. A seriously tempered final movement in the hands
of Piovano possesses real pent-up emotion.
Saint-SaŽns wrote his short Romance Op. 36 in
1874, originally for horn and piano. An undemanding score, its
light and agreeable lyricism has been described as fitting for
the Parisian salon. Calm and relaxing on the surface
with its glorious melody at the core the perceptive Piovano
reveals a slightly nervous undercurrent. The D major Romance
Op. 51 was completed in 1877 three years later than its
equally short sister score the F major Romance.
I was struck by the turbulent mood of the D major score
with absorbing writing that finds a relaxing conclusion.
A popular staple of the cello repertoire the Allegro appassionato,
Op. 43 was written in 1873. Evidently this brief score in its
version for cello and piano proves a popular choice for young
cellists in competitions and recitals as it presents only moderate
technical challenges. Thereís resolute playing from Piovano
with a splendidly engaging melody and the sense of uncertainty
in the writing.
Of the fourteen movements of the famous Fantasia The Carnival
of the Animals Saint-SaŽns permitted only the penultimate
movement The Swan to be published in his lifetime. The
Swan has achieved great popularity and has been arranged
in many instrumental combinations. This arrangement for cello
and piano is especially successful. With its most enchanting
melody one can easily picture a swan gliding gracefully and
serenely over still water.
Saint-SaŽns completed the Chant Saphique for cello and
piano in 1892. It was premiŤred the same year at the Sociťtť
de la Trompette. Played by Piovano with considerable concentration
this richly textured score lacks the tenacity of some of its
companions. Published posthumously the short Gavotte
for cello and piano, so sprightly and elegant, is a well crafted
example of Saint-SaŽnsí neo-baroque writing.
The final score on the double set is Saint-SaŽnsí appealing
Suite in D minor. It was an early work started
around 1862 and completed in 1866. Cast in five movements this
substantial score includes an exquisite Serenade. Biographer
Michael Steinberg has written that the Suite, ďÖ is
generally regarded as the first work in which an individual
and identifiable Saint-SaŽns voice can be heard.Ē The Prelude
feels like a swirling technical exercise rather than simply
entertainment for the listener. Next comes a pleasing and melodic
Serenade where Piovano engenders a soothing mood contrasted
by the lively and dance-like Scherzo. With its arresting
melody a melancholic quality pervades the extended Romance.
I found Piovano an effervescent and colourful communicator in
the sturdy demands of the Finale.
My favoured alterative version of these major Saint-SaŽns scores
featuring the cello are those from cellist Johannes Moser with
the Radio Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR under Fabrice
Bollon. Moser elects to record the smaller scores in their versions
for cello and orchestra rather than those for cello and piano.
I made this 2007 Stuttgart recording on Hänssler Classic
CD93.222 one of my ĎRecordings
of the Yearí for 2009. Displaying a secure technique and
rich timbre Moser in these delightful interpretations, expertly
mixes a generous palette of tone colours. Particularly impressive
is the iron grip that he exercises over the proceedings.
This Eloquentia double set was recorded across three locations
in Italy. On disc one the two Cello Concertos were recorded
live and are coupled with the Second Cello Sonata.
I found the overall sound quality to be more than acceptable
without being exceptional.
Impressive soloist Luigi Piovano plays throughout with skill
and commitment and with abundant artistry and eminent sympathy.
Nazzareno Carusi and Luisa Prayer offer consistently impressive
support. In the two concertos the Orchestra del Teatro Marrucino
under Piero Bellugi, without having the refinement of the premier
orchestras, play conscientiously and with considerable ability.