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Cat. No. CHSA 5104 Price: 11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5104 - Saint-Saens: Orchestral Works
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Available From: 15 May 2012

Chandos CHAN 5104

Saint-Saëns: Orchestral Works – Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

The works on this disc all date from the first half of the composing life of Saint-Saëns – with one exception, the Marche du couronnement, which he wrote for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. In Spartacus, the composer depicts Alphonse Pagès’s tragedy on the revolt headed by the ill-fated gladiator in 73 BC by use of bold, chromatic notes, followed by a military allegro which integrates them. After a tender theme, the bold notes return, now with a downward turn at the end, probably evoking Spartacus’s defeat, and the concert overture ends with a march that recalls the tender theme. Equally dramatic is Saint-Saëns’s symphonic poem Phaëton. In ancient Greek myths, Phaëton, the son of Helios, is reluctantly given permission to drive his father’s sun chariot. As Phaëton fails to control the chariot, and carries the sun too close to the earth, Zeus intervenes and brings the unfortunate ride – and Phaëton himself – to an abrupt end by means of a thunderbolt. Saint-Saëns’s writing for large orchestra (including contra-bassoon, tuba, two harps, and three timpanists) brings with it a pure, raw energy. The intense state of panic is signalled by a menacing low note on the trombone, and further heightened through subsequent imitative entries that crowd in on one another. After Zeus’s massive thunderbolt, the music subsides into a feeling of loss and regret. Saint-Saëns’s other three symphonic poems are also on this disc – Le Rouet d’Omphale, Danse macabre, and La Jeunesse d’Hercule – as well as the ‘Danse bacchanale’ from Samson et Dalila and the ‘Marche militaire française’ from Suite algérienne.


"As far as single-disc compendiums of Camille Saint-Saëns’ shorter orchestral works go, this new release on the Chandos label buries the competition....he [Neeme Järvi] conducts
with the zest of a Gustavo Dudamel, setting a new standard for everything on this consummately programmed disc.The album begins with the ever popular "Bacchanale" from the
opera Samson et Dalila ...This performance in super audio sound must be one of the most exciting on record..."
Bob McQuiston - Classical Lost and Found - 4 September 2012

“... All in all this is a disc with plenty to discover and enjoy!”
Geoffrey Norris – Gramophone magazine – September 2012

“...Warmly welcomed.”
Peter J Rabinowitz – International Record Review – July/August 2012

"...The performances are first-class in their brio, sympathy and sensitivity, Ralph Couzens’s sound is top-drawer (audiophiles will be drooling), and the music consistently skilled (both in invention and scoring), enjoyable and memorable. This is a superb release on every count."
Colin Anderson - Classicalsource.com - 14 June 2012

                    BBC Music Orchestral Choice – August 2012
                             Performance *****        Recording *****
“This is pure pleasure... this marvellous new disc from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Neeme Järvi is a collection of sparkling gems...The RSNO is in top form, with shimmering strings, colourful woodwind and swaggering brass, full of wit, colour and joie de vivre. The recording is also outstanding, sound great in stereo while the surround mix is beautiful, giving a wonderful natural bloom that is perfect for this effervescent music.”
Christopher Dingle – BBC Music magazine – August 2012

"Fêted from the Midle East to South America (where he wrote the Uruguayan national anthem) during his lifetime, Camille Saint-Saëns is remarkable both for the variety an volume of his orientalist music and the sophistication of its orchestration. Neeme Järvi’s programme of symphonic poems, bacchanales and barcolles ranges from the smokily luxuriant to the swashbuckling. An attractive performance of exotic bon-bons from the RSNO."
Anna Picard - The Independent - 23 June 2012

          Performance  *****      Sonics *****
"...The disc opens with a thrillingly frenetic account of the ’Danse bacchanale’ from the third Act of Saint-Saëns’ opera ’Samson et Dalila’ in which Järvi and the players of the RSNO revel in both the music’s oriental barbarism as well as its sensuality. Spirited performances of the well-known ’Marche militaire française’ and the delicious overture to the composer’s light opera ’La Princesse jaune’ follow before we reach the three rarities that complete the programme. Saint-Saëns described ’Une nuit a Lisbonne’ as ’a little barcarolle’.Scored for small orchestra and lasting under four minutes it is a captivating miniature, especially when played as affectionately as here.The Concert Overture ’Spartacus’ dates from 1863 though the composer never published it and it languished forgotten until the 1990s. It is a fiery work with a flavour of one of Liszt’s more flamboyant symphonic poems – just the sort of piece that brings out the best in Järvi’s conducting style. The same is true of the final work on the disc - the ’Marche du couronnement’.This splendid march, written for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, is given a terrific performance full of swagger, appropriate Edwardian pomp and crowned with clangorous tubular bells. The 24-bit/96 kHz 5.0 channel surround sound recording matches the high standard set on a number of recent Chandos recordings made in the ample acoustic of the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow. It delivers a convincing orchestral image, one that also graphically conveys the acoustic signature of the recording venue. Very detailed and informative liner notes by Roger Nichols are also most welcome.
Warmly recommended.
Castor - SA-CD.net - 30 May 2012


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