Piano concerto 7. Grieg & Saint-Saëns

Edvard Grieg wrote one of the (if not the) most famous of piano concertos.

It was first written in 1868 when the composer was 24 but revised several times before it reached its final version. While it’s clearly heavily indebted to the Schumann concerto in the same key (just think of that opening piano avalanche!), Grieg’s natural melodic gift and more than a hint of Norwegian folk music lifts it well out of the category of slavish imitation.

Surprisingly, perhaps, given its success, (and like the Schumann) it’s the composer’s only piano concerto – he started work on a second in b-minor but never managed to complete it.

It has the standard – fast, slow, fast – three movements and is given a truly native performance here in the Grieg Hall in Bergen by the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes:

1. Allegro molto moderato 00:41
2. Adagio 13:50
3. Allegro moderato, molto marcato 19:58

Score (2 piano)

… and here’s the Hallingdans (but not quite as it appeared in the last movement of the concerto!):

Not quite so well known, but still frequently performed, is the rather remarkable Second Concerto (in g) of Camille Saint-Saëns. The work is unusual in that it starts with a slow movement, follows it with a scherzo and ends with that wild Italian dance, the saltarello.

Andante sostenuto : 0:01
Allegro scherzando : 10:46
Presto : 16:13

Score (2 piano)