THE LESSER-KNOWN PIANO CHAMBER MUSIC OF CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS: A RECORDING PROJECT
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Throughout his long and industrious lifetime, Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) devoted himself unconditionally to music both as a composer and a performer. Saint-Saens was a self-described traditionalist and musical purist, yet his works are distinctly expressive and imaginative, and they reflect the composer's own unique musical language which incorporates recognizably modem traits such as chromaticism and frequent modulation. As a performer, Saint-Saens preferred to premiere his own works and often included his chamber music in his concert programs. Regarded primarily as a symphonic composer in the present day, however, his extensive and varied collection of chamber music works is sadly neglected. Six varied small-ensemble works with piano from his chamber music repertoire have been selected for study and recording for this project: Piano Trio No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18 (1864); Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1 inC Minor, Op. 32 (1872); two pieces for two pianos, Le Rouet d'Omphale (The Spinning Wheel ofOmphale), Op. 31 (1871) and Phaeton, Op. 39 (1874); piano duet Konig Harald Haifagar (King Harald Haarfager), Op. 59 (1880); and a wind quartet, Caprice sur des airs Danois et Russes (Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs) for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 79 (1887). Analyses of the forms and harmonic structures of these compositions will be included in this dissertation paper as well as studies from the viewpoint of Saint-Saens' compositional style, ensemble characteristics, and writing for the piano. The recordings for this project were made in four sessions in LeFrak Concert Hall at Queens College, the City University of New York. On September 24, 2003, Op. 31, Op. 39 and Op. 59 were recorded with Professor Morey Ritt, piano. On March 2, 2004, Op. 18 was recorded with Elena Rojas, violin, and Clare Liu, cello, and on March 15, 2004, Op. 32 was recorded, also with Ms. Liu. The Caprice, Op. 79 was recorded on June 27, 2008 with Laura Conwesser, flute; Randall Wolfgang, oboe; and Steve Hartman, clarinet. The recordings may be found on file in the library at the University of Maryland, College Park.