Stephen Hough (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo (conductor)
It is surprising, given the popularity of the repertoire, that all the recordings of Saint-Saëns' complete concertos currently before the public pre-date the CD era and none of them are fully digital. In addition it has never before been possible to obtain all the composer's output for piano and orchestra on only two CDs. For these reasons alone this latest addition to the 'Romantic Piano Concerto' series is likely to become one of the most successful of all. The Gramophone 'Record of the Year' winning team of Stephen Hough and the CBSO are joined by their new principle conductor Sakari Oramo in performances which combine all the elegance required for the Frenchman's music with the utmost bravura. Saint-Saëns himself was a formidable pianist and his rare 1904 (!) 78rpm recording of Africa has until now been matchless; finally in Stephen Hough's performance he has a rival.
With so much in its favour we are quite confident that this new cycle of these piano concertos will become the benchmark recording for many years to come.