COMPOSERS: Camille Saint-Saëns
ALBUM TITLE: Saint-Saëns
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 5*
PERFORMER: BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Fabien Gabel, *Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: AP 112
Louis Schwizgebel, currently a BBC New Generation Artist, won second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2012 and has proved a good fit with the refinement, intellect and purity that these organisations’ chosen ones often seem to exemplify. Yet here he turns to the boulevardier swagger and glamour that Saint-Saëns presents in his two most popular piano concertos. Schwizgebel’s touch is gorgeously singing and wonderfully delicate, but can sharpen to serious bling when occasion demands – and he applies it judiciously. Throughout he shows exemplary musical taste and good sense, while making Saint-Saëns’s most fiendish passagework sound utterly effortless.
Though some other performers might relish camping up the almost jazzy finale of the Egyptian Concerto, Schwizgebel treats it with the same stylish seriousness as the rest of the music. The total effect could possibly be more fun, but as a showcase for Schwizgebel’s pianistic elegance and refinement the disc remains a joy. The orchestral playing – Fabien Gabel conducting the Second Concerto and Martyn Brabbins the Fifth – tends towards the efficient rather than the inspiring, but does the job with care and decent balance.