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Cat. No. CHAN 10214 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10214 - Saint-Seans: Messe de Requiem/ Partsongs
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Available From: 14 June 2004
For many years Saint-SaŽns earned a living as organist of the Church of the Madeleine in Paris. He was not a religious man, and indeed spoke of his Ďrepugnance for religious ceremonialí. In the spring of 1877 he finally felt able to escape the appointment and support himself independently. At the same time, the lease on his flat expired and he was helped to find a new apartment by a wealthy friend and admirer, Albert Libon.

At the end of May, Saint-SaŽns returned from a concert tour to find that Libon had died and left him 100,000 francs. The will, dated several years before, stated that the bequest was intended to free Saint-SaŽns from his appointment at Madeleine. Libon had also included the condition that Saint-SaŽns should compose a Requiem to be performed on the anniversary of his death. Although Libon had later deleted this condition, Saint-SaŽns felt such a keen debt of gratitude that he nevertheless composed such a piece. He conducted the first performance of his Requiem on the morning of 22 May, just two days after the anniversary of Libonís death, with Charles Widor as the organist and vocal soloists from the Paris opera.

One cannot help but wonder if Saint-SaŽns came to regret his Requiem. He must surely have thought of Mozart (whose Requiem had presaged his own death) when, six days later, his two-year old son fell to his death out of the window of their new apartment. His other son, a baby of only six months, died just a few weeks later through illness. Saint-SaŽnsís marriage did not survive the devastation. He parted from his wife who retreated to the country and only returned decades later, shrouded in black, at Saint-SaŽnsís own grandiose funeral Ė once again back at the Madeleine.
Reviews

''the performances are excellent, with choral singing delicate and full-bloodied as required, polished orchestral work, and firm yet supple direction from Diego Fasolis.'
The Telegraph

'Fasolis opts for some even rarer partsongs' a disc which no collectors of rarish Saint-SaŽns will want to forgo. The Chandos sound and documentation are, as usual, exemplary.'
International Record Review

 

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