Camille Saint-Saëns was one of the most versatile and brilliant composers of the late 19th century, but out of his impressive oeuvre only a few of his orchestral works are still regularly played today, namely, Carnival of the Animals, the Symphony No. 3, "Organ," the Piano Concerto No. 2, and a smattering of symphonic poems. This 2012 Chandos SACD by Neeme Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is a round-up of the short pieces that are consistently performed, including the Bacchanale from the opera Samson et Dalila, the symphonic poems Le Rouet d'Omphale, Phaéton, La jeunesse d'Hercule, and the Halloween treat, Danse macabre, along with a number of neglected pieces that were much more popular decades ago. Listeners can be forgiven for rushing to play tracks 1-5, because their name recognition and tunefulness make them perfect ice-breakers to lead newcomers into the less familiar works, such as the Overture to La princess jaune, Une nuit à Lisbonne, Spartacus, and the two marches. They also have catchy melodies and colorful scoring, and while they may not be widely programmed on concerts and CDs, Järvi and his musicians have given them vivid performances that are worth keeping in the catalog and well worth hearing.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Samson et Dalila, Op. 47|
|Suite algérienne, Op. 60|
|La Princesse jaune, Op. 30|