Author Topic: Camille Saint-Saëns  (Read 49271 times)

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Offline kyjo

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Re: OK, I've now found the perfect music, and it was written by Saint-Saens...
« Reply #200 on: November 06, 2017, 10:49:55 AM »
Anyhow, here we have the SS that I love, the one of the Cello Concerto,...

He wrote two cello concerti! :) I find the second to be very much the equal of the much better-known first.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Spineur

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #201 on: November 06, 2017, 01:05:28 PM »
Saint Saens can be uneven
I love Samson et Dalila but have been disapointed in the recently released Proserpine.
This recent CD of orchestral songs is very good


SymphonicAddict

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #202 on: November 06, 2017, 09:08:27 PM »
Since I see this interesting thread, I would like to say something. Have you ever listened to La Foi - Tableaux symphoniques? A work virtually unknown to many.



It's one of the most beautiful works created by this gentleman (in fact, he composed a lot of gorgeous music  ;D ). I highlight the Andantino (II mov.): it's a piece truly subtle, refined and bucolic.

Offline kyjo

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #203 on: November 06, 2017, 10:18:31 PM »
Since I see this interesting thread, I would like to say something. Have you ever listened to La Foi - Tableaux symphoniques? A work virtually unknown to many.



It's one of the most beautiful works created by this gentleman (in fact, he composed a lot of gorgeous music  ;D ). I highlight the Andantino (II mov.): it's a piece truly subtle, refined and bucolic.

Nope, I haven't heard it - thanks for bringing it to my attention!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Christo

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #204 on: November 06, 2017, 10:33:53 PM »
Since I see this interesting thread, I would like to say something. Have you ever listened to La Foi - Tableaux symphoniques? A work virtually unknown to many.



It's one of the most beautiful works created by this gentleman (in fact, he composed a lot of gorgeous music  ;D ). I highlight the Andantino (II mov.): it's a piece truly subtle, refined and bucolic.
Agreed, as I agree with many here: Saint-Saëns is an uneven composer, not always inspired. But there are dozens of gems among his large oeuvre - and it's a quiet pleasure to 'discover' them for yourself. Another very late (1919) composition that I love is the Morceau de concert (in reality a concerto, or perhaps concertino) for harp and orchestra. Here in its finest performance:
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/2drxEhBWlW4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/2drxEhBWlW4</a>
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Parsifal

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Re: OK, I've now found the perfect music, and it was written by Saint-Saens...
« Reply #205 on: November 07, 2017, 07:54:59 AM »
Clarinet Sonata


I had commented on how I didn't find the typeof modern yearing in SS's other two Late Sonatas (oboe and bassoon), but, then when I reacquainted myself this Clarinet Sonata, from the very first phrase I knew I had arrived at the MostPerfectWork...

I mean, wait,.. where have I heard this melody before? Certainly it is more famous than this Sonata??

Anyhow, here we have the SS that I love, the one of the Cello Concerto,...


seeking some other Masterpieces now...

Revisited this sonata (at least the first movement) and it is truly a masterpiece.

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #206 on: November 07, 2017, 02:38:47 PM »
Agreed, as I agree with many here: Saint-Saëns is an uneven composer, not always inspired. But there are dozens of gems among his large oeuvre - and it's a quiet pleasure to 'discover' them for yourself. Another very late (1919) composition that I love is the Morceau de concert (in reality a concerto, or perhaps concertino) for harp and orchestra. Here in its finest performance:
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/2drxEhBWlW4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/2drxEhBWlW4</a>

It's correct. The Morceau de concert for harp and orchestra is one of those gems. His other concertante works for several instruments represent a delightful show of craftsmanship and beauty.

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #207 on: November 07, 2017, 02:39:47 PM »
Nope, I haven't heard it - thanks for bringing it to my attention!

I hope you enjoy it!

pjme

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #208 on: November 09, 2017, 01:00:17 AM »
Un petit bijou!

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/wDO6EnqDIhM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/wDO6EnqDIhM</a>

and (Victor Hugo!)  in a more (melo)dramatic way...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/54I5d4a3QdM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/54I5d4a3QdM</a>

Lyrics: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/la-fianc-e-du-timbalier-the-cymbaleer-s-bride/
The timpanist becomes a "cymbaleer"!



And, finaly, it would be great to have at last a recording of "Le feu céleste", Saint Saëns cantata (soprano, narrator, chorus, organ & orchestra) for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. An hommage to electricity!
read the letter SS wrote to Paul Taffanel :

https://books.google.be/books?id=jm922PExav4C&pg=PT332&lpg=PT332&dq=Saint+saens+%2B+Le+feu+celeste&source=bl&ots=smOx8MEnoN&sig=GO8BDnUM3aeeAbLVGIq3T89BCbM&hl=nl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibvtyfqrHXAhXMzaQKHbFMCwk4ChDoAQg5MAM#v=onepage&q=Saint%20saens%20%2B%20Le%20feu%20celeste&f=false

P.



« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 02:56:52 AM by pjme »

Offline mjmosca

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Re: The Saint-Saëns Sanctuary
« Reply #209 on: January 22, 2018, 04:34:43 AM »
Michel's enthusiastic embrace of Saint-Saëns First Piano Concerto (I don't know it nearly as well as the beloved Second Piano Concerto):

What great stuff Saint-Saen's Piano Concerto No.1 in D Major is!

I am certain it is under-rated. To me, it sounds like a mixture of Tchaikovskian orchestral melodies, and Beethovian rhythm, structure and dynamics (one thinks of his 2nd and 3rd). The oscillation between moments of solo or moderately accompanied virtuosity and the orchestra, with abundant clarity and precision, remind me structurally of Beethoven's 3rd. In short, there is what there is in all Beethoven's piano concertos: a magnificent balance between piano and orchestra.

It also seems ludicrous to suggest, as some critics have, that Saint-Saens lacked profundity and so on. Not only, of course, is it completely idiotic to suggest that good music must have profundity, but I think it is completely false if one looks at the 2nd movement of the 1st Piano Concerto with its slow, tired negativity that echoes Beethoven - this time the 2nd movement of the 7th Sonata. Certainly, I think this slow movement is less brilliant than Beethoven's majestic subtly - some may even call it insincere - but the emotional depth is, I think, still there loud and clear.

Even taken as a whole, this D Major concerto somewhat mirrors Beethoven’s 3rd (and arguably the 5th) as it has a very dominant theme in the first movement, outward looking and at times celebratory, followed by a far more insular and intimate second movement, ended by a real memorable and indulgent blast. I am sure I once read that Saint-Saens is sometimes compared to Beethoven, and this early PC certainly illustrates that argument well.

One other observation is the use of staccato in places in the final movement that I haven't previously noticed (repeated also in his PC2 first movement rather significantly). Saint-Saens injects a Prokofieven jovialness into this movement, but is then peculiarly - though interestingly - contrasted by an almost hideously dreamy and repetitive piano melody reminiscent of a later Rachmaninov (like the ghastly Rach 3!). But what this does show, I think, is that Saint-Saens was a marvellously talented composer; echoing the past whilst predating that which followed, and writing music of subtlely, depth and sophistication that as a compliment is so ofen denied. This first piano concerto, whatever is weaknesses, is a piece of music underappreciated by, it seems, a really great number of classical music "fans".

What do you think of this Piano Concerto, or his other piano concertos, or his other work in general?


I completely agree with you that the First is a masterpiece (aren't all of the Saint-Saens Piano concertos?) and the criticism that Saint-Saens is "rarely profound" is also erroneous. It seem that weight and ponderousness is equated with "profundity" - Saint-Saens's extraordinary sense of clarity and line is thus slighted. There are 3 superb recordings of the First Piano Concerto, as part of complete sets: Collard/Previn, Roge/Dutroit, Malikova/Sanderling. Having been collecting and studying the music of Saint-Saens for over 50 years now, I find him to be a great composer- love nearly every piece of his- often struck by the suppleness of his harmonies and the subtlety of his development. All of the concerti and symphonies [5]- also not to be missed is his chamber music, the Requiem [particularly the Mercier recording] and the opera Henry VIII- we need a first rate recording of Henry VIII still. And his songs! His legacy is so vast- I could go on and on!!
 

Offline kyjo

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Re: The Saint-Saëns Sanctuary
« Reply #210 on: January 23, 2018, 04:50:47 AM »
I completely agree with you that the First is a masterpiece (aren't all of the Saint-Saens Piano concertos?) and the criticism that Saint-Saens is "rarely profound" is also erroneous. It seem that weight and ponderousness is equated with "profundity" - Saint-Saens's extraordinary sense of clarity and line is thus slighted. There are 3 superb recordings of the First Piano Concerto, as part of complete sets: Collard/Previn, Roge/Dutroit, Malikova/Sanderling. Having been collecting and studying the music of Saint-Saens for over 50 years now, I find him to be a great composer- love nearly every piece of his- often struck by the suppleness of his harmonies and the subtlety of his development. All of the concerti and symphonies [5]- also not to be missed is his chamber music, the Requiem [particularly the Mercier recording] and the opera Henry VIII- we need a first rate recording of Henry VIII still. And his songs! His legacy is so vast- I could go on and on!!

Wholeheartedly agree with this!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #211 on: January 23, 2018, 05:30:29 AM »
Wholeheartedly agree with this!
+1 Me too!
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #212 on: January 23, 2018, 05:53:25 AM »
I really enjoy a good bit of Saint-Saëns’ music. I love the cycle of PCs, Symphony No. 3, “Organ”, Le carnaval des animaux (which S-S only wanted to be performed privately), and Danse macabre. I need to revisit his chamber works as I have many of the Hyperion recordings. Also, the other concerti for violin and cello are in need of revisiting as well (as it’s been too long).
Don’t forget your three A’s, folks: Arnie, Alban and Anton!


Baron Scarpia

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #213 on: February 18, 2018, 05:54:32 PM »
Listened today to Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No 3. In its form, it could be characterized as an absolutely standard 19th century piano concerto - not a work that paves a new path, but full of beautiful melodies, compelling harmonies and orchestration, and perfectly managed structure.

I listened to Ciccolini/Baudo on EMI. It is an analog recording from the mid-70's. Not the sort of recording you would use to demonstrate your stereo system, but an honest concert hall perspective which is satisfying. Ciccolini gives a non-flashy but masterful performance. Baudo is a conductor whose skill is often overlooked. He does a superb job here. He accomplishes the difficult task of keeping the trombones in control is their dramatic passages in this work.

Offline kyjo

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #214 on: February 18, 2018, 10:30:21 PM »
Listened today to Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No 3. In its form, it could be characterized as an absolutely standard 19th century piano concerto - not a work that paves a new path, but full of beautiful melodies, compelling harmonies and orchestration, and perfectly managed structure.

I listened to Ciccolini/Baudo on EMI. It is an analog recording from the mid-70's. Not the sort of recording you would use to demonstrate your stereo system, but an honest concert hall perspective which is satisfying. Ciccolini gives a non-flashy but masterful performance. Baudo is a conductor whose skill is often overlooked. He does a superb job here. He accomplishes the difficult task of keeping the trombones in control is their dramatic passages in this work.

Yes, it's a great work and I like it every bit as much as the more famous 2nd and 5th concerti. The gorgeous opening theme always reminds me of the opening of Schubert's "Great" C major symphony. The slow movement is beautifully nocturnal and the finale is really rousing, with a harmonically adventurous opening.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #215 on: February 19, 2018, 08:33:27 AM »
On second listen, my impression is concerned. The first movement has a very compelling theme and structure, and there are wonderful orchestral effects, such as several passages where a dramatic climax leads to the full string section playing an ostinato figure in unison. The finale is likewise compelling with a very distinctive main theme. The slow movement is the one part that doesn't quite come together for me, beautiful passage work for piano, but I don't quite grasp the trajectory of the music. Maybe it is to be understood as a sort of interlude.

Offline mjmosca

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #216 on: October 12, 2019, 05:15:24 AM »
Very happy to read your second thoughts! As in the case of other great composers, many of Saint-Saens' works demand more than one hearing to begin to grasp the quality of the work. You can spend a lifetime with Saint-Saens and he is always worthy of your attention.

As to the oft repeated criticism that he is "uneven"- there is no "even" composer. I have experienced some really boring times with Mozart even, yet no one would call Mozart uneven!

Offline mjmosca

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #217 on: October 12, 2019, 09:37:09 AM »
I really enjoy a good bit of Saint-Saëns’ music. I love the cycle of PCs, Symphony No. 3, “Organ”, Le carnaval des animaux (which S-S only wanted to be performed privately), and Danse macabre. I need to revisit his chamber works as I have many of the Hyperion recordings. Also, the other concerti for violin and cello are in need of revisiting as well (as it’s been too long).

Hello Mirror Image- just a note, the Hyperion 2 disk set of Saint-Saens' Chamber works with the Nash Ensemble has 2 very disappointing performances: those of the Piano Quartet and the Piano Quintet. In both cases, they sound like rehearsal run-throughs, as if concepts of the musicians were not fully formed; bland and colorless. Not at all up to the Nash Ensembles usual standards. There are far better performances. The Piano Quartet op 41. is very well performed by Prometheus Piano Quartet and there is a new, superb performance of the Piano Quintet along with the great String Quartet Number 1, with the Quartetto di Cremona.  best wishes for great listening!

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #218 on: October 12, 2019, 11:58:32 PM »
Hello Mirror Image- just a note, the Hyperion 2 disk set of Saint-Saens' Chamber works with the Nash Ensemble has 2 very disappointing performances: those of the Piano Quartet and the Piano Quintet. In both cases, they sound like rehearsal run-throughs, as if concepts of the musicians were not fully formed; bland and colorless. Not at all up to the Nash Ensembles usual standards. There are far better performances. The Piano Quartet op 41. is very well performed by Prometheus Piano Quartet and there is a new, superb performance of the Piano Quintet along with the great String Quartet Number 1, with the Quartetto di Cremona.  best wishes for great listening!

I think that part of the "problem" for Saint-Saens is that his music is actually very hard to play well - literally technically demanding.  As you allude to in your comment about the Nash Ensemble recording above.  So for players/recording companies you have the double whammy of music that will take a long time to prepare properly but does not have the USP/cache of being by an unknown composer etc.  There will be the vast bulk of CM listeners who know the name of Saint-Saens but will look no further than the Swan, Danse Macabre or the Organ Symphony. 

Offline mjmosca

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Re: Camille Saint-Saëns
« Reply #219 on: October 13, 2019, 05:28:51 AM »
I think that part of the "problem" for Saint-Saens is that his music is actually very hard to play well - literally technically demanding.  As you allude to in your comment about the Nash Ensemble recording above.  So for players/recording companies you have the double whammy of music that will take a long time to prepare properly but does not have the USP/cache of being by an unknown composer etc.  There will be the vast bulk of CM listeners who know the name of Saint-Saens but will look no further than the Swan, Danse Macabre or the Organ Symphony.

You are so right! the technical demands are great- some years ago, I tried to follow along with the score for the Piano Quartet and got lost many times!! And the fact that Saint-Saens is not unknown, indeed he is famous, but only for a few compositions makes him less of a discovery, even though so many works are not often played. The ever increasing technical mastery as time goes on may make SS less daunting.... but of course technical mastery does not always translate into music making- that elusive goal! thank you!