In this vibrant 2003 recording, the chamber version of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals and five other works are energetically performed by some of the most gifted artists on Virgin's roster. Carnival's numerous solos make it suitable as a showcase, and bassist Janne Saksala, flutist Emmanuel Pahud, clarinetist Paul Meyer, and percussionist Florent Jodelet have opportunities to shine. Yet pianists Frank Braley and Michel Dalberto dominate the proceedings, and their playing is consistently fine. Gautier Capuçon's cello solo in "The Swan" is highly expressive, though he is heard to better advantage in the "Romance" and the "Prière." While most listeners will be attracted to this disc for the featured work, two interesting pieces should not be overlooked. The sweetly lyrical Fantaisie is exquisitely performed by violinist Renaud Capuçon and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet. The Septet is the most unusual offering for its inclusion of a trumpet in an otherwise conventional ensemble of piano and strings. Yet this piece works rather well as light entertainment, and David Guerrier's trumpet part is both exuberant and subtle. Great color and a living presence make this recording thoroughly enjoyable, despite the few instances of scrappy playing.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Carnival of the Animals, zoological fantasy for 2 pianos & ensemble|
|Samson et Dalila, opera in 3 acts, Op. 47|
|Septet for piano, trumpet, string quartet & bass in E flat major, Op. 65|