This second volume in Naxos’ ongoing Saint-Saëns symphony cycle is as good as the first. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised in this day and age that a work like the Organ Symphony, which used to get recorded a couple of times in a decade, should be released twice on the same label in the matter of a few months, but never mind. Soustrot has some very good ideas about how the music should go, and comparison with the Slatkin on this same label is interesting. Where Slatkin took a more measured approach and emphasized precision and unanimity of ensemble, especially in the first movement, Soustrot prefers urgency even at the expense of some occasionally blurred articulation. The very slow tempo for the introduction followed by that agitatedRead more allegro highlights the broad range of contrasts typical of the performance more generally.
That said, Soustrot knows better than to drag his way through the Poco adagio second movement, while the scherzo and finale have more than enough of the necessary verve. The organ, excellently played by Carl Adam Landström, is very well balanced by the Naxos engineers, although the timpani solos in the scherzo’s main them lack impact, and the final pages aren’t quite as splendid as they need to be. Good as the Malmö players are, this isn’t Boston under Munch, or Chicago with Barenboim. Still, this is a very fine performance of a work whose fortunes on disc have tended to wax and wane, and the presence of the very early (1850–Saint-Saëns was 15) Symphony in A major plus the tone poem Le rouet d’Omphale, equally well played, constitutes a considerable bonus. Looks like we’re waxing.
Symphony in A majorby Camille Saint-Saëns Conductor:
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: circa 1850; France
Le rouet d'Omphale, Op. 31by Camille Saint-Saëns Conductor:
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1872; France
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Excellent ProgramApril 22, 2017By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Saint-Saens Third Symphony is one of those works that always seems to sound attractive and engrossing, provided that the orchestra is reasonably competent and the organ is not played to a bombastic excess. A glance at Arkivmusic's listing of recordings of this symphony will identify literally dozens of good releases, and I'll bet that most Arkivmusic patrons have their personal favorites. For me, Charles Munch's famous effort with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoit's recording with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra spring to mind immediately. This Naxos disk from 2015 is yet another one that can be enjoyed immensely, with Saint-Saens' early A Major Symphony and a nice tone poem included for good measure. Conductor Marc Soustrot's interpretation of the Organ Symphony emphasizes (to me) a moderate tempo, allowing Sweden's outstanding Malmo Symphony Orchestra to develop and express the many subtleties of Saint-Saens magnificent score. As for the organ, its gentle presence in the glorious second movement seemed just about perfect- detectable but not overdone. That leaves the spectacular final movement, with the organ's contribution compelling and convincing as the symphony thunders to its altogether triumphant conclusion. The sound quality and balance of the disk is just fine, and so I rate this recording at a well-deserved 5 stars. It takes its place among the vast number of fine interpretations of Saint-Saens symphonic masterpiece. Recommended for an exciting, absorbing listening experience."Report Abuse