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Saint-Saens: Orchestral Works / Pastrana, Markl, Basque National Orchestra

Release Date: 02/09/2018 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573732  
Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Guillermo Pastrana
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jun Märkl’s previous Saint-Saëns orchestral collection on Naxos gave us splendid modern versions of the composer’s four symphonic poems (Naxos 85737450) and was a great success. That CD featured the Orchestre National de Lille but here he turns his attention to the excellent Basque National Orchestra.

The Suite algérienne is set in four movements and it opens with a marvellous seascape depicting a ship entering Algiers. The Moorish Rhapsody that follows is attractive but immediately forgettable. The Rêverie du soir (A Blidah) is rather more inspired and lyrical and the popular Marche militaire française, much beloved of military wind bands, brings the suite to a memorable close. The Suite in D is
Read more more substantial and musically far more satisfying. It inhabits a similar sound world to that of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances and is orchestrated with classical restraint. Cast in 5 movements the suite is characterised by its use of French baroque dance movements. The opening Prelude brings to mind the opening movement of Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony. The Sarabande, whilst being baroque in nature, also looks forward to the English string works of Elgar and John Ireland. A lively Gavotte is followed by a gently flowing Romance and a bustling Final in the form of a moto perpetuo with the lightness of touch of a Mendelssohn scherzo. Saint-Saëns originally wrote his Suite in D minor for cello and piano in 1866 but it was revised and orchestrated in 1919. The suite is based on dance music but not the dance music of France. The Prelude is a nod in the direction of J S Bach and the Serenade sounds like a re-working of Fauré’s famous Pavane, not just melodically but also in terms of the orchestration. The Gavotte takes us back into the world of J S Bach and then the mood shifts for a reflective, ruminating Romance. The concluding Tarantelle shows Saint-Saëns in one of his boisterous and playful moods. The final work in the collection is a beautiful little Serenade. The melody is very similar to the one used by the composer in his violin concerto No.3 and it’s a lovely little gem.

Those who love the music of Saint-Saëns need not hesitate. There is nothing too serious here and the music doesn’t plumb any depths but it’s delightful on the ear and written with great craftsmanship. Guillermo Pastrana performs the cello solos with fine musicianship and Jun Märkl conducts with taste, avoiding any sort of bombast. The Basque National Orchestra plays beautifully for him and the sound is of a high calibre.

– MusicWeb International (John Whitmore) Read less

Works on This Recording

Suite algérienne in C major, Op. 60 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Suite for Orchestra in D major, Op. 49 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Suite for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 16bis by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Guillermo Pastrana (Cello)
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; France 
Sérénade in E flat major, Op. 15 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Nice Program; One Minor Qualification September 16, 2018 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Over the past several years, Naxos has produced an excellent series of recordings of the orchestral works of French composer Camille Saint-Saens. The majority of these recordings has featured Sweden's Malmo Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marc Soustrot. If you have not yet had a chance to sample these disks, I urge you to do so, because they are indeed quite magnificent recordings. For this particular disk, Naxos shifted southward to northern Spain to utilize the Basque National Orchestra and conductor Jun Markl in a fine program of other orchestral works composed by Saint-Saens. Three suites and a serenade make up this very attractive program, and all of them exhibit the musical attributes that characterize Saint-Saens' compositional style- smooth, lush orchestration with a controlled, conservative discipline that stays within the bounds of the Romantic Era. Every work on this recording has an immediate appeal and all are well worth exploring. The Suite Algerienne is fairly well-known, with its musical portrayal of Algeria, one of Saint-Saens' favorite places. Both the Suites in D Major and D Minor (this last one for cello and orchestra) are built on Baroque dance forms, and the concluding work, Serenade in E Flat, is a gorgeous, soft reverie that puts a gentle benediction on the entire program. The Spanish orchestra plays this music more than adequately, although I think Sweden's Malmo Symphony Orchestra (used on other Saint-Saens recordings) is a clearly superior ensemble, with a more spacious and luxurious sound quality. Nevertheless, the overall quality of this recording is high, and I think you will enjoy Saint-Saens' music contained herein as much as I did (and do)." Report Abuse
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