The Fantaisie-Ballet Op 6 was Pierné’s first work for piano and orchestra. Written in 1885 it is essentially a suite of connected movements. A work of glittering virtuosity, the piano part bristles with every conceivable difficulty. It is dedicated to the pianist Caroline Montigny-Rémaury, a famous virtuoso and friend of Saint-Saëns, with whom she played duets. She was also the sister-in-law of the influential Ambroise Thomas, Director of the Paris Conservatoire. She is perhaps best remembered today as the dedicatee of Saint-Saëns’ Caprice-valse Wedding cake Op 76 – a work written on the occasion of her marriage in 1885, when she became Madame Caroline de Serres. Pierné’s dedication gives both Caroline’s married and maiden names and, although it is possible that the twenty-two year old Pierné personally knew the celebrated pianist, it seems likely that this is a case of Pierné imitating Saint-Saëns with his own ‘wedding cake’.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2003