SAINT-SAENS: Orchestral Works = Danse bacchanale; Omphale’s Spinning Wheel; Phaeton; Dance macbre; Le Jenuesse d’Hercule; Marche militaire francaise; Ov. to “Le Princesse jaune”; A Night in Lisbon; Spartacus; Coronation March – Royal Scottish Nat. Orch./ Neemi Järvi – Chandos

by | Jul 29, 2012 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

SAINT-SAENS: Orchestral Works = Danse bacchanale; Omphale’s Spinning Wheel; Phaeton; Dance macabre; Le Jenuesse d’Hercule; Marche militaire francaise; Ov. to “Le Princesse jaune”; A Night in Lisbon; Spartacus; Coronation March – Royal Scottish Nat. Orch./ Neemi Järvi – Chandos multichannel SACD CHSA 5104, 77:40 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
When first picking up this new Chandos SACD I was reminded of the recent Naxos audio-only Blu-ray of Verdi ballet music. Although the Saint-Saens disc has only one dance piece in it—the opening very familiar Danse bacchanale from Samson et Dalila—it is similar in being tonal Romantic period orchestral music and aside from a few standards, less immediately familiar works from both composers.
Estonian conductor Järvi keeps a very full schedule. He is Conductor Laureate of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Music Director Emeritus of the Detroit Symphony, and as of this September will be the new Music Director of the Suisse Romande Orchestra, plus a host of other orchestra connections.
It’s good to have such rousing versions of the familiar ballet music from Samson et Dalila, as well as Omphale’s Spinning Wheel and the Danse macabre. The orchestra’s leader, Maya Iwabuchi, is the violin soloist in the latter. The longest work on the SACD and the longest of the composer’s many symphonic poems is The Youth of Hercules. Its musical themes concentrate on the opposition between pleasure and virtue.  The next longest track is the rarely-heard “Grand Concert Overture,” Spartacus. As with nearly all of these ten works, it comes from the first half of the composer’s career, and was inspired by the Roman gladiator’s unsuccessful revolt in 73 BC. Only the closing March comes from later in Saint-Saens’ composing life. It was written in 1902 for the coronation of Edward VII, during a time of positive Anglo-French diplomatic activity.
—John Sunier

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