Piano Concerto in F major ‘Egyptian’, Op. 103

An outstanding pianist and organist, Saint-Saëns (1835–1921) travelled widely and was particularly fond of North Africa. His fifth piano concerto is often referred to as “The Egyptian”, largely because of the eastern melodies found in its second movement. The first movement, sonata-like and embellished with unique French colour, recalls the influence of Beethoven and other early romantic masters. A challenge to the soloist’s technical skill, the finale invokes airy dancing music which, according to a contemporary observer, seems to evoke “a happy return to the boulevards of Paris” following a trip to Egypt.