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Saint-Saëns: Preludes and Fugues for Organ, etc / Andrew-John Smith

Album Summary

>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Preludes and Fugues (3) for organ, Op. 99
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Fantasy for Organ in D flat major, Op. 101
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Cypres et lauriers, for organ & orchestra, Op. 156
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Fantasie no 3 for organ in C major, Op. 157
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Marche religieuse, for organ in F major, Op. 107
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Bénédiction nuptiale for Organ in F major, Op. 9
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Fantasy for Organ in E flat major
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Despite his solid reputation nowadays, much of Saint-Saens' music was underrated in his lifetime, and many of his organ works remain little known. Yet his prodigious talent as a performer was such that by 1858, aged just twenty-three, Camille Saint-Saens (1837-1921) found himself at the console of Aristide Cavaille-Coll's brand-new organ at Paris' La Madeleine - with four manuals, 48 stops and an unprecedented symphonic wall of sound at his disposal. Making his Hyperion debut, organist Andrew-John Smith offers a generous selections of works spanning over six decades. Performed at La Madeleine on the instrument the composer knew and loved (and using only the registrations available to him at the time), the results are simply thrilling.

'The charm and elegance of these preludes, fugues and fantasies ... brilliantly played by the hugely talented Smith on the great Cavaillé-Coll instrument that Saint-Saëns knew' (Observer)

'There are magical moments aplenty here ... Smith is in a class of his own when it comes to compelling performances of these pieces. They are by far and away the best recordings of Saint-Saëns' organ music since Daniel Roth's three LP-set in 1982 ... Deeply compelling in their interpretative ardour and musical insight. What's more, there's even a touch of true flamboyance ... Any composer of integrity, neglected or otherwise, should be profoundly grateful for such compelling and persuasive advocacy as this' (International Record Review)

'Saint-Saëns has an originality and charm all his own ... Smith's warm and sympathetic rubato is a consistent delight, and his inspired choice to make the recording on an instrument played regularly by Saint-Saëns means that listeners can relish the authentic Gallic tones of the splendid La Madeleine organ' (Gramophone)

'The excellent performances apart, the main selling point of this disc is the opportunity to hear some of Saint-Saëns's organ works played on the very instrument for which they were composed - the magnificent Cavaillé-Col at La Madeleine, Paris ... Performed with flair and sensitivity by Smith who also contributes the excellent booklet notes' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Andrew-John Smith's reappraisal of Saint-Saëns' organ works is a real winner. The Trios Préludes et Fugues, three Fantasies and other works are performed with great sensitivity on the organ of the Madeleine ... These pieces illustrate a remarkable synthesis of beauty and structure from France's most outstanding composer of the 19th century' (Choir & Organ magazine)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Andrew-John Smith's clever programming alternates the Three Preludes and Fugues, Op 99, with the three Fantaisies and other works. Wisely, he begins and ends the CD with the loudest and most extrovert pieces, namely the E flat major Prelude and Fugue and the E flat Fantaisie. In between there are long stretches of quiet, introspective music, and listeners may long for the more dramatic compositions of Franck, Vierne or Widor. However, at his best Saint-Saëns has an originality and charm all his own; possibly no other French organist composer could have produced the delicate beauty of the B major Prelude or the Bénédictionnuptiale.

It's clear from his highly detailed bookletnotes plus his polished and stylish performances that Smith is an enthusiastic advocate of Saint- Saëns. What prevents this CD achieving its fullest impact is a cautious approach by player and sound engineers to the cavernous acoustic of the church of La Madeleine. The potential loss of detail leads Smith to adopt tempi which are sometimes slower than the composer's moderato and sans lenteur markings. Meanwhile the 1846 four-manual 58-stop Cavaillé-Coll organ is recorded close-up, and although we gain clarity we lose the sense of grandeur with a large instrument ringing around a massive edifice.

On the plus side, Smith's warm and sympathetic rubato is a constant delight, and his inspired choice to make the recording on an instrument played regularly by Saint-Saëns means that listeners can relish the authentic Gallic tones of the splendid La Madeleine organ.



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Works Details

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Preludes and Fugues (3) for organ, Op. 99
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1894

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Fantasy for Organ in D flat major, Op. 101
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1895

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Preludes and Fugues (3) for organ, Op. 99
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1894

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Cyprès et lauriers, for organ & orchestra, Op. 156 :: Cyprès
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1919

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Fantasie no 3 for organ in C major, Op. 157
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1919

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Marche religieuse, for organ in F major, Op. 107
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: March
  • Written: 1897

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Preludes and Fugues (3) for organ, Op. 99
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1894

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Bénédiction nuptiale for Organ in F major, Op. 9
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1859

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Fantasy for Organ in E flat major
  • Performer: Andrew-John Smith (Organ)
  • Notes: La Madeleine, Paris, France (09/21/2004-09/22/2004)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1857