Saint-Saëns: Music for Wind Instruments

Saint-Saëns: Music for Wind Instruments

by Stephane Lemelin


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Saint-Saëns: Music for Wind Instruments

Stephane Lemelin and ensemble prove that an album of wind instruments is fresh, lively, and exciting. This album of all Saint-Saëns music includes ensemble pieces as well as pieces that beautifully showcase each instrument; this shows that careful attention was paid to the selection and order of repertoire. The ensemble pieces are exciting, with a wall of sound where each instrument holds equal weight. Even the piano, playful and sparkling, is its own personality, but it never outplays the winds. Each of the musicians, from the clarinet to the bassoon, has excellent technique. One quickly gets the impression that these musicians are at the top of their game; they know how to play a Caprice just as well as they know how to play an Adagio, with excellent timing, phrasing, and dynamics, while never losing an intimate chamber music feel. The oboe sonata is played with such fluidity, like a clarinet or violin, with legato lines, trills, and a blooming-swelling piano underneath. The oboe maintains its dignity, without ever lapsing into a schmaltzy, trying-to-be-poignant tone. The bassoonist plays with agility, but yet the somber Adagio is equally worthy. Perhaps the only foul note on the album is that the horn tends to drag a bit in the "Romance in E major," which is quite interesting to listen to with its Chopin-esque piano lines that emerge here and there. However, this is only a minor point in an overall strong album. The "Tarantella" is a perfect ending. We hear the spider crawling, the dance making its way around and around. The flute and clarinet are in perfect synchronization, and the piece fully captures the passion of an entire orchestra in just three instruments. Saint-Saëns' musical lines and rhythms playfully intertwine, and comes alive thanks to the musicians. For those looking to expand their collection of music by wind instruments, or who are new to this area of music, this album is a worthy place to start. ~ V. Vasan

Product Details

Release Date: 12/14/2010
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313096473
catalogNumber: 8570964


  1. Tarantella, for flute, clarinet & orchestra in A minor, Op. 6
  2. Romance for horn & piano in E major, Op. 67 (from Suite for cello & piano)
  3. Sonata for bassoon & piano, in G major, Op. 168
  4. Sonata for oboe & piano in D major, Op. 166
  5. Sonata for clarinet & piano in E flat major, Op. 167
  6. Caprice on Danish & Russian Airs, for flute, oboe, clarinet & piano, Op. 79

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Saint-Saëns: Music for Wind Instruments 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Matthew15 More than 1 year ago
Saint-Saëns believed his chamber works were some of the most important pieces he composed. The pieces on this disc were all composed at important times in Saint-Saëns' life, creating an contrasting (and interesting) listening experience. The Tarantella for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, the earliest work on the CD, was written when the composer was 22, and was inspired by a recent trip to Italy. Youthful and energetically melodic. The Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano and the Romance (arranged for horn and piano) were both written at the height of Saint-Saëns' career, during the time he wrote the Symphony No. 3 'Organ' and the Carnival of the Animals. These two pieces are more virtuosic; the first one is colorful, and each instrument is given the spotlight throughout. The second is a transcription of a work originally composed for cello and piano. Excellent listening, especially for horn players. The other three works on the CD, all pieces for wind instrument and piano, were composed in the last year of Saint-Saëns' life. Although his music was considered in 1921 to be mostly outdated in his native France, these are charming works nonetheless, and Saint-Saens' creativity is still evident. Most of the works on this disc have more definitive performances recorded elsewhere, but this is still a wonderful and inexpensive collection.