Hervé Niquet / Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra / Flemish Radio Choir

Camille Saint-Saëns: Music for the Prix de Rome

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One of the most significant challenges facing young French composers in the 19th century was to compete for the Prix de Rome, not only for the considerable prize money and residency in Rome, but more importantly for the recognition it granted. Camille Saint-Saëns competed for the prize twice, in 1852 with his youthful cantata, Le Retour de Virginie, and in 1864 with his nearly operatic setting of Ivanhoé. Though he didn't win in either year, Saint-Saëns had already achieved success between his Roman efforts and won prestige for his increasingly progressive works, which were strongly influenced by Liszt and Wagner and therefore quite antithetical to the conservative leanings of the prize committee. This album by Hervé Niquet and the Brussels Philharmonic revives both works, and offers the Ode, the Choeur des Sylphes, excerpts from the Messe, Op. 4, and eight Motets au Saint Sacrement, all works from the period that demonstrate Saint-Saëns' mastery of vocal and choral writing.While these compositions are superior to much of the French academic music of the Second Empire, they still seem like minor efforts from the early stage of Saint-Saëns' career, and are therefore of primary interest to specialists.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Ivanhoé
1 4:37
2 1:42
3 1:33
4 1:37
5 2:14
6 2:24
7 1:35
8 1:31
9 4:30
10 2:55
11 2:44
12 1:43
Le Retour de Virginie
13 3:06
14 2:27
15 1:11
16 4:13
17 5:10
18 2:51
19 2:09
20 2:13
21 3:40
22 1:27

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
Ode
6:22
2 5:00
Messe, Op. 4 (excerpts)
3 8:48
4 4:26
5 5:51
6 2:44
7 4:34
8 2:12
9 3:09
10 3:43
11 4:27
12 5:15
blue highlight denotes track pick