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  Camille Saint-Saens
Country : France
Date of Born: : 9 October, 1835
City: : Paris
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The Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 33 was written by Camille Saint-Saens for cello in 1872 when the composer was 37. Though Saint-Saens is most known for his traditional-style works in either sonata, concerto, or symphony form, this concerto, his first violoncello concerto, is somewhat different because it contains only one movement, as opposed to the traditional three movement concertos. This one movement is a fuse of three somewhat distinctive movements that are linked into each other through clever transitions, as if it were one movement. The one-movement concerto most likely was inspired by Franz Liszt, who encouraged indirectly to break off with tradition. Saint-Saens, perhaps as a tribute to Robert Schumann, one of the most celebrated composers of the time, wrote this concerto in A minor, the same key in which Schumann composed his cello concerto.

After the complications and difficulty of writing the concerto, Saint-Saens vowed never again to write a concerto for cello because he found it too "restrictive." However, he did write a second cello concerto, which is less popular. The Concerto No. 1 was debuted in the Paris Conservatory on January 19, 1873. Sir Donald Francis Tovey later wrote "Here, for once, is a violoncello concerto in which the solo instrument displays every register without the slightest difficulty in penetrating the orchestra." Many composers, including Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, considered this concerto to be the greatest of all cello concertos. The concerto also begins in an unusual way; instead of the traditional orchestral introduction, the piece begins with one short chord from the orchestra followed by the cello stating the main motif. Soon, countermelodies flow from both the orchestra and cellist, and at times the two playfully "call and answer" to each other. Soon, a quasi-development is encountered as the themes change keys and are modified. The music reaches a point where a full recapitulation seems imminent, but instead, the piece deviates into a long orchestral interlude in a light minuet style. The cello enters with countermelodies, and leads to a brief cadenza. Shortly after, the motif character of the beginning of the work returns, and the piece takes on the style of a fantasia. It ends with a triumphant passage in A major (the main key of the work is A minor). The whole work, instead of being divided into movements, is seamlessly welded into one entire concerto without stopping.


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