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The complete symphonies of Saint-Saëns on 2 CD’s, a most welcome set, as there are remarkably few complete issues on the market. Saint-Saëns’ music, always extremely well crafted, delights in melodic richness (he knew how to compose a catching tune!), colourful orchestration and an exquisite charm and “French esprit”, which make these works highly attractive for a large audience.
Especially Symphony No. 3, for organ and large orchestra, gained immense popularity, not in the least because of the popsong “If I had Words”, written on the melody of the last movement. These performances by French forces under maestro Jean Martinon, still rank among the best recordings of the wonderful works.
“Much as I enjoy Bizet’s delightful Symphony in C any of the early works here is comparable to it in quality and enjoyable substance...I suspect that all but the Third will have been new to the orchestra and possibly also to the conductor when they were recorded but you would never be aware of this from the characterful and affectionate playing.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.