- Symphony No. 3 in C minor ("Organ"), Op. 78
- Cyprès et lauriers, for organ & orchestra, Op. 156
- Danse macabre, symphonic poem in G minor, Op. 40
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There are now so many good recordings of Saint-Saens' Third Symphony that any new offering has to have something unusual about it for it to attract any attention. This new CD has two strong points that will probably be of special interest to devotees of the organ. The first is that this disc celebrates the inauguration of the newly restored organ of the Palais du Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The organ certainly sounds splendid on my stereo, and the Orchestre National de Lyon under Leonard Slatkin's expert direction delivers a fine performance. The second point is that this CD contains two additional compositions, one of which is seldom recorded. "Cypresses and Laurels," Op. 156 for organ and orchestra was composed in 1919. It's something of a curiosity, but it makes a very suitable addition to this CD. Earlier recordings of it include one on the EMI label (coupled with Saint-Saens' Third Symphony) under Michel Plasson's direction, one on the Chandos label (coupled with other works by Gigout, Gounod, Guilmant, Dupre, and Dubois) conducted by Rumon Gamba, and one directed by Louis de Froment on a Vox 3-CD set of Saint-Saens' music that contains all five of his piano concertos plus other shorter compositions. The other additional piece on this CD is Saint-Saens' famous "Danse macabre" arranged as an organ solo by Edwin Lemare and revised by Vincent Warnier, the Orchestre National de Lyon's organist-in-residence. It is in this arrangement that one can truly hear the sonic capabilities of the restored organ, and for those who are devotees of the organ this version will surely not disappoint. If you prefer "Danse macabre" in its usual orchestral version and you don’t care about "Cypresses and Laurels," then you may wish to look elsewhere. Recommended for those who wish to add this particular combination of works to their collections. Ted Wilks