Notes and Editorial Reviews
The curiosity here is the Duc de Guise music. Since Saint-Saens was born in 1835, before Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, we think of him as a nineteenth-century figure, yet here he was in 1908 writing a film score for a silent biopic made by one Henri Lavedan—"the earliest piece of film music in the history of the cinema", says the booklet essay. It falls into five tableaux lasting some 20 minutes and is well worth a listen as an example of how this resourceful and experienced composer created expressionistic mood and action music that still stands up on its own. The murder takes place in the fourth tableau, a surprisingly jaunty affair. As in the Carnaval des animaux it uses a biggish ensemble, but we are not told what instruments are
involved. Otherwise, the booklet is informative about this fascinating, faintly tragi-comic work.
It is also useful on the Piano Quintet, which belongs to the other end of Saint-Saens's life, having been written in 1855. The music tells us this at once, having some youthful grandiloquence along with plenty of burgeoning skill, not least as regards construction. It is melodious and distinctly attractive: indeed, the Andante sostenuto is lovely, and the scherzo could almost be by Mendelssohn. Both of these performances are sympathetic and skilful, earning this issue a warm welcome. It goes without saying that in this context the Carnaval des animaux comes over as the big chamber music that it is, rather than orchestrally as we sometimes hear it; these French artists play it with enormous zest and an idiomatic sense of fun. A refined recording is a further plus to this delightful disc.
-- Gramophone [3/1994]
Works on This Recording
Carnival of the animals by Camille Saint-Saëns
Quintet for Piano and Strings in A minor, Op. 14 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Written: 1855; France
L'assassinat du Duc de Guise, Op. 128 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Written: 1908; France
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Chamber Musicians Visit the Zoo April 15, 2012
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"This is a very gentle disk, emphasizing Saint-Saens' delicate touch with coloration. The headline work is the Carnival of the Animals, which in my experience is more often presented in an orchestral version. Thus, it is nice to hear in a chamber music version. The quintet is excellent, although listeners expecting French 'Sturm und Drang' will be disappointed. This quintet is smooth, quiet, and calming- all in all a very fine example of French chamber music.
Nicely recorded, with an added bonus with its bargain price."