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Saint-Saens: "Organ" Symphony / Dutoit, Montreal Sym Orchestra

Release Date: 12/16/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 410201   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Peter Hurford
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 34 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Each time I listen to a new recording from Charles Dutoit I am reminded of his famous French predecessor in the gramophone world. Pierre Monteux had similar gifts, bringing a naturally sympathetic response to the widest range of repertoire and, even more important, bringing everything fully to life in the studio. With Dutoit—as with Monteux—his records have both immediacy and natural spontaneity and one has the sense of being at a live performance. So it is with this splendid new digital record of Saint-Saëns's Third Symphony which also confirms yet again what an excellent orchestra—in every department—is the Montreal group. The recording itself is transparently detailed and everything that Dutoit does is clearly conveyed. The strings Read more are given a thrilling brilliance above the stave—there is a hint of digital edge but the quality is truthful—and for the symphony's closing pages (and indeed the actual entry of the organ) the weight of the sound is very impressive.

Dutoit creates an evocative feeling of expectancy in the opening, the allegro has fine attack and bustles with energy while the contrasting secondary material is beautifully played. The slow movement is very telling, the combination of strings and organ heart-warming (I find the digital sound particularly lustrous at mezzo forte). The movement reaches a climax of great intensity and the closing pages are touching. The Scherzo has tremendous energy and the finale is able to makes powerful dynamic contrast because of the weight and freedom from bass distortion. There is an exhilarating quickening at the coda and one is left tingling as the final chord dies away. Altogether a first-rate disc, the performance is enticing for its lyrical flow as for its sense of spectacle.

My one very slight personal reservation is that when Peter Hurford comes in with that irresistible tune at the beginning of the finale, he plays it more pointedly than usual and the effect is less massive than in some versions, notably the Barenboim, which remains a great performance with a marvellous feeling of jubilation in the outer movements and a genuine nobility in the slow movement. The DG sound for Barenboim is first class and those who like an analogue ambience will find this still very competitive. But then so too are the mid-price versions. Paray's account is distinguished in every way and the Mercury sound balance has remarkably clear detail as well as warmth and weight. Paray's approach to the slow movement is more elegiac while the entry of the organ in the finale is very full and positive. Fremaux (HMV) has a more reverberant acoustic and this brings a spreading amplitude in the finale that some may like best of all. The recording has a strikingly wide range, both of frequencies and dynamics, yet there is no sense of strain. The outer movements have great rhythmic verve and there is a genial feeling of gusto at the end which is endearing. You really can't go wrong with any of these records, and the work itself has a perennial freshness. I listened to all these versions in a row and then returned to Dutoit and was still enjoying myself hugely at the end.

-- Ivan March, Gramophone [3/1983]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 in C minor, Op. 78 "Organ" by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Peter Hurford (Organ)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1886 
Date of Recording: 06/1982 
Venue:  St. Eustache, Montreal, Canada 
Length: 34 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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