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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2017

Romain Descharmes’s scintillating technique suits these pieces to perfection, and he continues to show a flamboyant flair for the music that makes his playing a pure delight to listen to. The Malmö’s players sound better behaved and more secure than they were in Volume 1 of this series, and conductor Marc Soustrot delivers strong support to Descharmes, while extracting considerable detail from the orchestral parts. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Steven Kruger
Fanfare, September 2017

Throughout this concerto and the more incidental pieces, we encounter from Descharmes the sort of intuitive phrasing, Gallic spirit, and warm easy virtuosity which will surely make him a pre-eminent French pianist in this repertory. Move over, Pascal Rogé and Jean-Yves Thibaudet! Here is soft, seductive, supple pianism, with just the right touch of energy and feathery runs. Not to be left out of the considerable praise intended, Marc Soustrot and his Swedish orchestra are on the same page throughout and ravishingly recorded. The integrated balance between piano and orchestra is perfection itself and the venue in Malmö is ideal for this exceptionally fine orchestra. I don’t know when I have enjoyed Saint-Saëns so much! © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, September 2017

The folklore-based Rhapsodie d’Auvergne is a charming rarity, as is the Wedding Cake waltz. The biggest surprise is Africa, full of gorgeously reinvented folk tunes, including one from Tunisia. The climax is exotic and stirring. This is my favorite on this unorthodox program, offering many of Saint-Saëns’s attractions—glittery piano figures, colorful orchestration, nonstop tunefulness—without the turgid string passages and square rhythms that can mar even his finest work. The Malmo Symphony under Marc Soustrot plays with a lightness and fleetness that sound thoroughly French. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, July 2017

Saint-Saëns’s Third Concerto is, like the First, woefully underplayed and underrated. It is in the traditional three-movement fast-slow-fast format but, within that, what a wealth of originality is found, beginning with the succession of rippling piano arpeggios which opens the first movement. …Then turn to the harmonically adventurous second movement and its ambiguous tonality, and the boisterous pyrotechnics of the finale. What is there not to like?

The warmth and depth of the orchestral contribution and Marc Soustrot’s eye for detail are significant bonuses… © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Hurwitz, June 2017

This performance by Romain Descharmes maintains the same generally high standard as his first volume. …this is very enjoyable from first note to last and, as I said, having the concerto as the focus of attention corrects a true historical injustice.

The three short works are just delightful. Wedding Cake is the best known, but Africa and the Rhapsodie d’Auvergne are both colorful, splashy, effective pieces that deserve to be heard in concert, which they never are anymore. © 2017 Read complete review

Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, June 2017

SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Piano Concertos, Vol. 1 - Nos. 1 and 2 (Descharmes, Malmö Symphony, Soustrot) 8.573476
SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Piano Concertos, Vol. 2 - No. 3 / Rhapsodie d’Auvergne / Africa / Caprice-Valse (Descharmes, Malmö Symphony, Soustrot) 8.573477

For a number of reasons Saint-Saëns’s second and third concertos, composed just a year apart, didn’t do well at their premieres. The latter, the least recorded of the five, certainly has an imposing mien that sets it apart from its predecessors. Some of the sonorities are startling, and Soustrot, alive to such shifts, makes the most of them. Descharmes is equally receptive, those unsettling chords and dark harmonies exploited to the full. Indeed, it’s not difficult to hear why this concerto is less popular than the others, but this committed, strongly characterised performance should win it a raft of new friends.

The folksong-centred Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, which belongs in the first category, really deserves to be better known. The piano part—wistful, the past half-remembered—is pure delight, thanks to the affectionate, unmannered way in which it’s delivered. A hidden gem, this. Africa, which draws on the composer’s travels on that continent, is not short of sparkle, either. Even though I know the piece well, nothing prepared me for Descharmes’ superb control of the work’s distinctive syncopations. And if that weren’t praise enough, he despatches the ‘Wedding Cake’ waltz with true Gallic charm. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, May 2017

Romain Descharmes’s playing has a lot of clarity, it is richly detailed and vivid. He can count on Marc Soustrot’s competent conducting at the helm of the excellent Malmö Symphony. © 2017 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2017

The second disc in a complete recording of Camille Saint-Saëns’ five piano concertos from the French pianist, Romain Descharmes, and the Malmö Symphony. Written the year following his considerable success with the Second concerto, the Third has always stood deep in its shadow. Not that it is in any way inferior, but he could not again find those immediately ‘catchy’ tunes the previous work had offered. Yet place it in the expressive and limpid hands of Descharmes, that were the hallmark of the great French pianists of yesteryear, and you will then question its present neglect. I commented in my review of the first disc that ‘you must recall its year of composition (1869) which pre-dates Tchaikovsky’s concertos, and Rachmaninov was not yet born’, for then you will appreciate just how new and fresh the music must have been at the time. The disc is completed by three concert works for piano and orchestra, the earliest, the Rhapsody d’Auvergne from 1884, built around a folksong he heard sung by a washer-woman while travelling through the Auvergne region of France. Full of lightweight happiness, it makes an ideal foil for Africa, a score of a substance and length that would have been an ideal concerto movement. Finally his ‘Wedding Cake’ Caprice-Valse, a short piece that once enjoyed a ‘pop’ classic status. Another absolute winner for Descharmes, perfectly partnered by the Malmö Symphony with their chief conductor, Marc Soustrot, and in first-class sound. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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