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Cristian Măcelaru|Saint-Saëns: Complete Symphonies

Saint-Saëns: Complete Symphonies

Cristian Mǎcelaru & Orchestre national de France

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It is about time that a Parisian orchestra finally turned its attention to recording something other than Debussy and Ravel in the French repertoire that it should be championing as a priority. While we await the symphonies of Magnard, Ropartz or Honegger, here are all those of Camille Saint-Saëns, conducted by Cristian Măcelaru, at the head of the Orchestre National de France, a post which he has held since the 1st of September 2020.

Before even talking about the works, let us underline the extraordinary subtlety of Măcelaru's conducting, his sense of nuance, the suppleness of the expressions, the accuracy of the tempos. Under his vibrant baton, the National seems to have found a new lease of life and a new precision. As for Saint-Saëns' five symphonies, they are, except for the famous "Symphonie avec orgue" (1886), all early works... and one could not blame the young composer for shamelessly plagiarising his elders! He was fifteen when he composed his Symphony in A major (unnumbered), which owes everything to Haydn's "London" Symphonies and Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, just as the young Schubert had done before him.

Three years later, he composed his Symphony No. 1 strongly influenced by Beethoven's Eroica, (which is also in the key of E flat major) against which, infringing on a Beethoven symphony would have been entitled to protest. At the age of nineteen, the spirited young man wrote the "Urbs Roma" Symphony (unnumbered), an epic-like homage to ancient Rome with all the panache one can command at that age.

The Second Symphony, which followed five years later, is less passionate, more sober and much more personal. As for the famous Symphony No. 3 in C minor, it enshrines a composer who has reached the peak of his talent. So let us salute the beautiful rendering given here by Olivier Latry on the Nouvel Auditorium de Radio France organ, the Orchestre National and Cristian Măcelaru, whose nervous and sharp conducting carries us away with him. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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Saint-Saëns: Complete Symphonies

Cristian Măcelaru

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Symphony in A major (Camille Saint-Saëns)

1
I. Poco adagio. Allegro vivace
00:07:24

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

2
II. Larghetto
00:09:27

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

3
III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
00:03:25

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

4
IV. Finale. Allegro molto. Presto
00:06:00

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Symphony No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 2 (Camille Saint-Saëns)

5
I. Adagio. Allegro
00:09:17

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

6
II. Marche. Scherzo (Symphony No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 2)
00:04:47

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

7
III. Adagio
00:11:02

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

8
IV. Finale. Allegro maestoso
00:07:16

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Symphony in F Major "Urbs Roma" (Camille Saint-Saëns)

9
I. Largo - Allegro
00:13:30

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

10
II. Molto vivace
00:06:03

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

11
III. Moderato assai serioso
00:12:59

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

12
IV. Poco Allegretto. Andante con moto
00:11:21

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Symphony No. 2 in A minor, op. 55 (Camille Saint-Saëns)

13
I. Allegro marcato. Allegro appassionato
00:07:55

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

14
II. Adagio
00:03:45

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

15
III. Scherzo. Presto
00:04:43

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

16
IV. Prestissimo
00:07:27

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 "Organ Symphony" (Camille Saint-Saëns)

17
I. (a) Adagio - Allegro moderato
00:10:34

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Olivier Latry, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

18
I. (b) Poco adagio
00:11:29

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Olivier Latry, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

19
II. (a) Allegro moderato - Presto
00:07:25

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Olivier Latry, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

20
II. (b) Maestoso. Allegro
00:08:35

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS, Composer - Orchestre National De France, Orchestra, MainArtist - Olivier Latry, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Cristian Măcelaru, Conductor, MainArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2021 Orchestre national de France under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Album review

It is about time that a Parisian orchestra finally turned its attention to recording something other than Debussy and Ravel in the French repertoire that it should be championing as a priority. While we await the symphonies of Magnard, Ropartz or Honegger, here are all those of Camille Saint-Saëns, conducted by Cristian Măcelaru, at the head of the Orchestre National de France, a post which he has held since the 1st of September 2020.

Before even talking about the works, let us underline the extraordinary subtlety of Măcelaru's conducting, his sense of nuance, the suppleness of the expressions, the accuracy of the tempos. Under his vibrant baton, the National seems to have found a new lease of life and a new precision. As for Saint-Saëns' five symphonies, they are, except for the famous "Symphonie avec orgue" (1886), all early works... and one could not blame the young composer for shamelessly plagiarising his elders! He was fifteen when he composed his Symphony in A major (unnumbered), which owes everything to Haydn's "London" Symphonies and Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, just as the young Schubert had done before him.

Three years later, he composed his Symphony No. 1 strongly influenced by Beethoven's Eroica, (which is also in the key of E flat major) against which, infringing on a Beethoven symphony would have been entitled to protest. At the age of nineteen, the spirited young man wrote the "Urbs Roma" Symphony (unnumbered), an epic-like homage to ancient Rome with all the panache one can command at that age.

The Second Symphony, which followed five years later, is less passionate, more sober and much more personal. As for the famous Symphony No. 3 in C minor, it enshrines a composer who has reached the peak of his talent. So let us salute the beautiful rendering given here by Olivier Latry on the Nouvel Auditorium de Radio France organ, the Orchestre National and Cristian Măcelaru, whose nervous and sharp conducting carries us away with him. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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