Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens

Magazine article Gramophone

Saint-Saens

Article excerpt

Saint-Saens

Symphony No 3, 'Organ', Op 78 (a). Carnaval des animaux (b)

(b) Martha Argerich pf (a) Daniele Rossi org Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Sir Antonio Pappano (b) pf

Warner Classics (F) 9029 57555-5 (6V * DDD)

(a) Recorded live at the Sala Santa Cecilia, Rome, April 4 & 7-9, 2016

Saint-Saens's Organ Symphony and The Carnival of the Animals are rarely paired together on disc. Hugely different in scale, they have little in common other than being composed in the same year--simultaneously --but are probably the composer's two most famous works. This seems justification enough for Antonio Pappano to couple them on this disc in which his Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia are joined by Martha Argerich as a very special guest in Saint-Saens's 'zoological fantasy'.

The Organ Symphony was recorded in concert before quite a restless Roman audience. Pappano's orchestra pack a punch but their reading is quite measured, even when compared with Charles Dutoit and his Montreal SO. The first movement is emphatic and weighty, while the second--at over 11 minutes--feels lugubrious. Organist Daniele Rossi gently underscores the orchestra in the Poco adagio--Saint-Saens never meant this as an organ showpiece but a symphony 'with organ'. The Allegro moderato feels as if it scampers along but it's all relative; Dutoit is a good 30 seconds swifter. The organ features strongly in the finale but doesn't obliterate everything in its wake. …

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