Movement 1: Andante: Allegro assai
Movement 2: Andante sostenuto quasi adagio
Movement 3: Allegro con fuoco
In the strikingly original second movement, in which the accompaniment is greatly reduced to strings, clarinet and bassoon, Saint-Saëns creates a haunting and rather improvisatory atmosphere with typical economy of means. In the cadenza-like solo passages (often notated without bar-lines), the wonderfully fluid, almost impressionistic writing, marked ‘rapido e delicato’, seems to anticipate Ravel by a good fifty years. Towards the end of the exuberant finale, the opening theme of which is shared between piano and orchestra, the very first two melodic ideas in the work are recalled, now transformed in keeping with the irrepressible mood.
from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2001