Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens: 'Symphonies, Vol 1'

Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens: 'Symphonies, Vol 1'

Article excerpt

Saint-Saens

'Symphonies, Vol 1'

Symphonies--No 1, Op 2; No 2, Op 55. Phaeton, Op 39

Malmo Symphony Orchestra / Marc Soustrot

Naxos [B] 8 573138 (66' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Jean Martinon's recordings of all five Saint-Saens symphonies with the Orchestre National de l'ORTF remain a benchmark, having survived in the catalogue in one format or another since the 1970s. But now the Malmo Symphony Orchestra under the French conductor Marc Soustrot is mounting a challenge with a coupling of the First and Second Symphonies as the opening salvo of a projected three-disc complete set. Both works amply illustrate why the Third {Organ) Symphony is the only one to have achieved any lasting success. The First Symphony in E flat, composed in 1853 when Saint-Saens was still in his late teens, represents an accomplished assimilation of Mendelssohnian ideas while lacking a sustained impulse or sharpness of focus to fix it firmly in the mind: unlike the closeknit Organ Symphony, it is not always obvious why the four movements of the First belong with one another. …

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