Enrique Bátiz

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3

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Enrique Bátiz's 1984 CD of the Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ" by Camille Saint-Saëns provides adequate coverage of all the notes and in some ways is a decent, respectful interpretation of the work as a whole, but it is less than exciting for its precision and cautiousness. There can be no doubt that the London Philharmonic Orchestra could deliver a rousing rendition if led with energy and inspiration, but Bátiz seems unconcerned here with such essential matters of expression, and rather more focused on getting his musicians to play with absolute clarity and to maintain fastidious separation of parts. This dedication to meticulous musicianship may have been an unintended side effect of the then new digital recording process, which all the labels touted for its pristine sound and life-like reproduction. In the course of recording the symphony, Bátiz may well have been under instructions to make sure that everything was perfect in execution and that no risks should be taken for the sake of a vital performance, lest any audible mistakes creep in. The orchestra certainly played with acute attention to detail. But if it was hoped that digital sound would provide all the magic, then that was a mistake, for superb audio can never make a dutiful, studious performance feel volatile or ecstatic. That has to be in the playing from the start, and no amount of studio enhancements could rescue this fussy run-through.

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