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Symphonic Poems - Released December 1, 2017 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
The reputation of Camille Saint-Saëns is recovering from decades of self-serving modernist depredations, and it's becoming clear that much of his prolific output contains gems that are on a plane with his comparative handful of popular works. Here the popular one is the final Danse Macabre, Op. 40, but the rest of the program is so strong that the delightful Halloweener has the flavor of an encore. The program doesn't even consist entirely of symphonic poems. Two of the best finds are the adjacent Serenade and Rigaudon, Op. 93, Nos. 1 and 2, perfectly formed apotheoses of Baroque genres that embody the neoclassic idea well in advance of its actual beginnings (sample these, which are not commonly played). The symphonic poems themselves are fun and evocative enough that you might have a shot at guessing them without titles or other guidance. Two deal with the young Hercules, and make you wish Saint-Saëns had written an opera on this theme. The glittering Phaéton, Op. 39, serves as an overture to match the closing Danse Macabre and lays out the sufficiently silky tones of the Orchestre National de Lille with its German conductor, Jun Märkl. A thoroughly enjoyable three-quarters of an hour of music. © TiVo
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Keyboard Concertos - Released March 10, 2017 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released May 3, 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
There has been a vogue for the music of Saint-Saëns in the late 2010s, which is all to the good, and the piano concertos especially have come in for increased exposure. It turned out that all they needed was some flair and enthusiasm; they're marvelous. This release by pianist Alexandre Kantorow, with the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow (his father), stands out even among strong competition and even considering that it does not include the most popular of the five, the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22. Saint-Saëns was paradoxical: he was a classicist who admired Liszt and was in turn admired by him. The delightful effort to reconcile Classical concerto forms with splendid virtuoso effects (the composer was one of the great pianists of his day) can be heard in all these pieces, but sample the second movement of the increasingly popular Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 ("Egyptian"), where a giant, sweeping Lisztian gesture on the piano fills the role of the first theme, while the second theme is a catchy melody Saint-Saëns supposedly heard from boatmen on the Nile. All the concertos require a pianist of both grace and power, and that is what they receive at the hands of the young Alexandre Kantorow, whose background is as a Lisztian. BIS contributes superior sound from the Tapiola Concert Hall. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 16, 2010 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Though it was the least well received by its intended dedicatee -- Pablo de Sarasate -- the third violin concerto of Camille Saint-Saëns has endured as one of his most popular concertos along with the A minor Cello Concerto and the Third Piano Concerto. The earlier two violin concertos, each written some 20 years before, are still noteworthy, lively concertos, but lack the same emotional impact and maturity of the seasoned B minor Concerto. What they may lack in depth is made up for with pyrotechnic virtuosic displays, perhaps explaining Sarasate's fondness. This Naxos album places the B minor Concerto first, ending with the C major Concerto, a program order that curiously seems to place the bigger "bang" finish at the beginning, closing with a less emphatic note. Regardless of the order in which listeners enjoys the three concertos, the performances given by violinist Fanny Clamagirand and the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä under Patrick Gallois are each delivered with equal amounts of precision, warmth, and vitality. Clamagirand's playing in particular is extremely nimble and dazzling, something both Sarasate and Saint-Saëns would have been proud of. Her sound is not exceptionally big, however, and the recording would certainly have benefitted by increasing her sound level. As it stands, the orchestra too frequently obscures Clamagirand's otherwise memorable playing. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 3, 2015 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
With this 2015 Naxos release, Marc Soustrot and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra embark on a cycle of some of the most inexplicably neglected symphonies by a great composer, the five symphonies of Camille Saint-Saëns. Several of his concertos and tone poems have long been mainstays of the repertoire, and most relevant to this case, his Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ" (1886), remains one of his greatest hits. However, the symphonies on either side of that classic are unknown to most classical listeners. The best-known cycle was recorded by Jean Martinon in the 1970s and issued by EMI, and there have been periodic recordings of individual symphonies by other conductors, but this body of work is under-performed and under-recorded. Soustrot and his Swedish orchestra give their project a promising start by offering lively renditions of Saint-Saëns' youthful efforts, the Symphony No. 1 in E flat major (1852) and the Symphony No. 2 in A minor (1859), and a clear image of the young Saint-Saëns emerges, supporting the contemporary description of him as "the French Mendelssohn." With that, one might also compare these pieces to the Symphony in C by Bizet, another symphony by a teenage genius. It's unlikely that this disc will reach a wide audience, but its availability is important for anyone trying to understand the works that won Saint-Saëns support from Berlioz, Gounod, and Liszt. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released November 27, 2020 | Warner Classics

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It's always a good thing when a new recording fills a hole in the catalogue, and this all-Saint-Saëns chamber programme from seasoned collaborators Renaud Capuçon, Bertrand Chamayou and Edgar Moreau is one of those. Firstly because, while there already exists a generous smattering of readings of the first violin and cello sonatas from a range of top names, they tend not to be paired with each other. Plus, they've never been paired with the magnificent Piano Trio No. 2, which itself has been much less recorded. Add the fact that here we have not just three of France's finest artists, but among them the pianist who carried off Gramophone's “2019 Recording of the Year” precisely for his Saint-Saëns (recording of Concertos Nos. 2 & 5), there's a whole host of reasons why this album deserves your full attention. The Violin Sonata No. 1 gets things off to a great start. Dubbed the “Hippogriff Sonata” by Saint-Saëns on account of the near-mythical powers it requires of the violinist, this work demands not just supreme technique, but also a wide palette of colours, and the ability to apply them sometimes with the kind of nuance that suggests there's more going on emotionally than is perhaps sitting on the surface. Capuçon is well endowed with mystical technical powers, and they're in full play over this warm-toned performance delivered with unfailing elegance. Crucially also, the closeness of the dialogue between him and multi-coloured Chamayou yields a constant succession of pleasures that reach their apotheosis in the moto perpetuo virtuosities of the final Allegro molto. Equally crucially, the bright engineering has honoured the piano's importance, both in the overall balance, and in the clarity with which every single perfectly articulated, iridescent note of Chamayou's has been captured. The same holds true for the capturing of his piano concerto-esque virtuosities in the Cello Sonata No. 1, classily delivered by Moreau, who himself employs a satisfyingly wide dynamic range, while maintaining finesse of tone and attack even through the stormiest moments. Where this recording deserves reference status, however, is with the Trio. Just listen to the journey these three have taken us on even before we've made it to bar 20: the dramatically taut, forwards-propulsion of the piano's dark, opening chords; tonal matching from Capuçon and Moreau that's so exact through their passings of the melodic line that you really have to strain to hear where one stops and the other picks up; the myriad of colouristic nuances and shapings and fluctuations of temperature being brought by one and all to the music's moody rise and fall; then the glorious parting of the clouds from them as the E major second theme drops. Or, for an example at the other end of the work, listen to the impeccably tight chamber partnering on display through their deftly wrought, filigree fugue in the final movement. Also the achingly lovely upper register singing from Capuçon in that movement's (and indeed the entire trio's) softer, longer-lined moments. The whole thing is leaping out of the stereo from first to final chord, glowing, glittering, exciting and charming on every front. Highly recommended. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 22, 2019 | Naxos

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The Malmö Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Jun Markl uphold a repertoire which is rarely heard live, specifically French music from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. After Albéric Magnard (BIS in 1999 and 2000) and Vincent d’Indy (Naxos, 2019), they have published a Camille Saint-Saëns album (once again for Naxos). An untiring globe-trotter, Saint-Saëns peppers his music with effects which create a background of different sounds. As opposed to Louise by Gustave Charpentier or Pelléas by Debussy, Les Barbares by Saint-Saëns (conceived in 1901) is a new example of the purest tradition of of French lyricism. The harmonic richness of the score, its bountiful melodies and the opulence of its orchestration do not break any new ground. Indeed, it seems Saint-Saëns is more inventive when composing within a more classic framework. However, despite the anachronistic nature of this work, which is also identified in Ascanio, La princesse jaune, Jota aragonese, Andromaque and Ouverture d’un opéra-comique inachevé, the listener savours every note. The programme, which combines the orchestral pages of these scores (ballet, opera and other lyrical tragedy), allows the Malmö Symphony Orchestra to show the full range of their musical colour: sumptuous strings, soaring harps and an irresistible harmony make them sound like one lone supermusician. Indeed, Jun Markl sculpts the MSO with uniformity in mind - the sound recording sticks to this approach as well - highlighting the the powerful lyrical dimension of this repertoire. An inspiring and necessary account of the genius of French orchestration. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 10, 2017 | Naxos

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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | BR-Klassik

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Naxos

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Classical - Released February 9, 2018 | Naxos

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Now, no-one could argue that there are too many recordings of the orchestral suites of Saint-Saëns! All the more reason, then, to welcome this new album from the Basque National Orchestra (Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa, in Basque), which as well as the Suite algérienne Op. 60 of 1879-1880, the Suite in D major Op. 49 written for harmonium in 1863, orchestrated by the composer in 1877, offers us the Suite in D minor Op. 16b, first written in 1863 for cello and piano and then orchestrated, by the master himself, in 1919 – and augmented with two additional movements. The Suite algérienne is mainly Algerian in name - consider that the fourth and final movement is a "French military march", hurrah for Empire - while the exotic accents seem to roam around, from Bohemia to Moorish Spain, with only very sporadic jaunts to North Africa, a part of the world that the composer did know well, but perhaps not so much musically as... well. In Suite Op. 49, the discreet instrumentation and the language which has been deliberately borrowed from baroque serve to underline the first composition for harmonium. Finally, the Suite Op. 15b is a kind of concerto-fantasia for cello, and here the Spanish cellist Guillermo Pastrana officiates with panache. Here again, Bach is never far away, even in these delightful romantic tones, which would not have disgraced Lalo! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 13, 2018 | Naxos

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With this latest consignment of concertos by Saint-Saëns, the Malmö Orchestra directed by Marc Soustrot and with the pianist Romain Descharmes round off an adventure that began in 2013. The 1875 Fourth Concerto, charming enough on its own account, also appears to prefigure the Organ Symphony which was written ten years later, both in terms of the musical discourse but also the orchestral grip: it's recognisable from a mile off. Twenty years separate the Fourth from the Fifth, written in 1896 to celebrate fifty years since the composer made his 1846 Parisian début. The work's nickname – taken from its origin in the town of Luxor which Saint-Saëns visited during one of his frequent stays in Egypt, where he would take refuge from wintry Paris and enjoy the local attractions – is slightly misleading, as the concerto doesn't really have any particularly Middle Eastern or North African accents, but instead it is more marked by Spanish influences (well, Arabo-Andalusian, strictly speaking). Rather than being "Egyptian", the work is more of a rich tapestry of diverse cultural influences against a Pyramid-themed backcloth. The second movement offers a few zoological notes, closing to the sounds of croaking toads and chirping Nile crickets. © SM/Qobuz
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Keyboard Concertos - Released September 7, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released January 6, 2015 | Naxos

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Camille Saint-Saëns was a frequent performer on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Palais de Trocadéro, which was installed in 1878 for the Paris Expo. This famous instrument was relocated in 1939 to the Palais de Chaillot, and finally moved to the Lyon Auditorium in 1977, where it received a complete restoration in 2013. To mark this historic instrument's renovation, Vincent Warnier and the Orchestre National de Lyon, under the direction of Leonard Slatkin, present an all-Saint-Saëns program, showcasing the organ in three works. The 1919 arrangement by Edwin Lemaire of Saint-Saëns' orchestral Danse macabre, in a 2004 revision by Warnier, is an entertaining display of the organ's Romantic-era stops and uncanny capacity for imitating orchestral effects. The organ is prominently featured in the two works with orchestra, Cyprès et lauriers, and the Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," though the writing in both works is less splashy than in the opening selection. Indeed, the solo in Cyprès is quite knotty and somber, compared to the fireworks in Danse macabre and the relatively simple chordal part in the symphony is far from a virtuosic solo. Still, the organ's rich tone colors give the symphony much of its appeal, and the recording by Radio France captures its majestic presence with full volume. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 2, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | Bru Zane

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Le Timbre d'Argent (The Silver Bell), begun in 1864, was Camille Saint-Saëns' very first opera. All but forgotten, it was last staged in 1914, before the 2017 Paris production on which this 2020 release is based. The forces here, including the specialist ensemble Les Siècles, the fine choir Accentus, and conductor François-Xavier Roth make a strong case for the opera's revival. Saint-Saëns obviously valued the work, revising it as late as 1913, due in part to the Franco-Prussian War; it is this last version that is heard presently. The work was termed a drame lyrique or opéra fantastique rather than an opéra comique, but it is an action-packed work that veers between romantic fun and fantasy elements that it shares, along with a pair of librettists, with Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman of 15 years later. (Goethe's Faust is another inspiration: the titular silver bell brings wealth but kills someone close to the user.) The fantasy elements are prominent in the substantial choral sections, giving the magical choir Accentus much to do. There is a great deal of sheer, sparkling Mozartian melody as well. Roth and a lively cast led by tenor Edgaras Montvidas as the obsessed, Faust-like artist keeps things moving along. Saint-Saëns is a conductor whose star seems to be on the rise, and admirers of his music are sure to want this. The surprise, however, is that anyone can enjoy it. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released September 24, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released June 9, 2015 | Reference Recordings

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For sonic showcases, Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," is increasingly recorded by orchestras eager to show off their virtuosity and distinctive tone colors, so this HDCD from Reference Recordings is typical for its flashy program and high-fidelity reproduction. Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony deliver this celebrated Romantic symphony with extraordinary vitality, crisp articulation, and brilliant sonorities, and their performances of the two filler pieces are equally vivid and exciting. Of special note are the soloists, organist Jan Kraybill in the symphony, violinist Noah Geller in the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, and the duo of Geller and cellist Mark Gibbs in La muse et le poète, who give a heightened sense of drama and panache to their respective parts. But the real star of this album seems to be the 24-bit high definition recording, which really sets the musicians in sharp relief and gives them credible dimensions and presence. For listeners who have several recordings of the symphony, this disc will be fun to hear, if not necessary to own, though newcomers to Saint-Saëns could do a lot worse than to add this terrific sounding recording to their collections. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 28, 2011 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or