SAINT-SAËNS 3 Rhapsodie sur des contiques Bretons. Ave Maria. Élévation ou Communion. Ave, verum. Offertoire-Sarabande. Inviolata. I salutaris. Interlude Fugue. Tantum ergo. Præludium in c. Sub tuum. Deus Abraham • Vincent Genvrin (org); La Lyre Séraphque Ch • HORTUS 914 (59:30)
This disc is, on the surface, so strange that perhaps only a psychologistRead more could figure out the meaning of its title, Samson et Dalila à l’église or Samson and Dalilah in the Church. When it was first offered to me, and only listed as Samson et Dalila, I immediately thought it was a recording of the opera, but it’s a compendium of Saint-Saëns’s very lyrical and atmospheric church organ music, in some of which the organ accompanies a vocal choir and/or soloists. The strangeness of the CD’s title is further complicated by the fact that an article bearing the same title as the CD appears in the booklet only in French, and I have no clue what it says except that the motets for solo voices and organ were composed for the Church of the Madeleine, and it appears that at least some of them were dedicated to Pauline Viardot-Garcia.
The majority of the music, as I say, is lyrical and atmospheric, almost mystical in feeling, which is unusual considering that Saint-Saëns was an atheist. There is further strangeness in the acoustic, very roomy and almost boomy, with a lot of space surrounding both organist and singers. Nearly all of the music is composed using long-held notes with occasional faster passages (but not terribly difficult ones) in both hands. The volume is almost consistently quiet (a rare exception being the second rhapsody) and, one might say, religious in feeling—or at the very least, extraordinarily relaxing. In fact, this is one of the most consistently relaxing classical CDs I’ve ever heard that did not stoop to perform the music in a purposely “easy listening” style or acoustic. One cannot help but feel a certain warmth and well-being seep into one’s spirit upon listening to this music. Imagine, if you will, coming quietly into a church while the organist is practicing a series of slow, meditative pieces, occasionally accompanied by a solo voice or a small chorus. You sit in the back pew, entranced by what you hear, almost afraid to move for fear of making a sound and disturbing the mood. That’s exactly what this CD sounds like.
If this kind of music is something you enjoy, this is the CD to own. No lyrics of the sung texts are included in either French or English, nor is the recording location identified. Organist Vincent Genvrin is employed by both the Cathedral of Soissons and St. Nicholas des Champs in Paris, so your guess is as good as mine.
Buyer beware!December 21, 2015By Thomas Berry (Atlanta, GA)See All My Reviews"Buyer beware! This album is not what it seems. It has absolutely nothing to do with Samson and Delilah. The only thing they have in common is the composer. I purchased this thinking it was a recording of the Opera. Since it was recommended, I figured it must be good. Very disappointing."Report Abuse