In 1884, soon after the premiere of his opera Henry VIII, Saint-Saëns completed both the Allegro appassionato, Opus 70 (not to be confused with a work of the same title for cello, Opus 43) and the Rapsodie d’Auvergne, Opus 73.
A seminal figure in the history of French Romantic music, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was also one of the greatest keyboard prodigies of the past 200 years.
When he made his piano recital debut at the age of 10 in the Salle Pleyel, he announced to the audience that he would be pleased to perform any of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas as an encore. A good deal later, Liszt referred to him as the greatest organist on earth. Saint-Saëns was a prolific composer in all genres, and thus it is not at all surprising that he created a bountiful body of works for both organ and piano.
Not only was Camille Saint-Saëns a piano virtuoso, eulogised by Liszt amongst many others, but he was one of the most exciting and imaginative of composers for the instrument. He enjoyed taking baroque and classical forms and translating them into his own brand of romantic language, qualities that Geoffrey Burleson explores so adroitly in this second volume of the complete piano music.
This "Allegro appassionato" is one of two such-named examples of Saint-Saëns' oeuvre (the other, his op. 45, is for cello). As a virtuoso pianist who performed regularly until just weeks before his death, Saint-Saëns needed to refresh his solo repertoire on occasion with such works as this. To make it maximally useful, he wrote it so that it could be either played with orchestra or as a solo. Its outer sections, in C-sharp minor, based on a three-note figure made up of a minor second and descending minor sixth, frame a "dolce espressivo" variant in G major. This famous Allegro Appassionato possesses brilliance and lyrical depth and is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).