Magazine article The American Organist

Saint-Saëns: Requiem; Organ Symphony

Magazine article The American Organist

Saint-Saëns: Requiem; Organ Symphony

Article excerpt

SAINT-SAËNS: REQUIEM; ORGAN SYMPHONY. London Philharmonic Orchestra; The Hertfordshire, Harlow, and East London Choruses, Michael Kibblewhite, director; Tinuke Olafimihan, soprano; Catherine Wyn-Rogers, contralto; Anthony Roden, tenor; Simon Kirkbride, bass; James O'Donnell, organ; Geoffrey Simon, conductor. Recorded at All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London. Cala CACDS4032 (SACD). Available through www.shopforte.com. Under the skilled leadership of Geoffrey Simon, some of England's finest musical forces have gathered here for superlative performances of two little known works by Saint-Saëns, complementing one of his most beloved creations. Composed in 1872 in collaboration with librettist Louis Gallet for an operetta inspired by Oriental whimsy, the Overture to La Princesse Jaune, Op. 30, is tinged with exotic coloring. The wistful introduction gives way to a playful theme in this seven-minute fantasy. With the Messe de Requiem, Op. 54, we enter an entirely different realm. Saint-Saëns dedicated the 36-minute work to his friend Albert Lidbon, who made a bequest to the composer of 100,000 francs to write and perform it after Lidbon's death, which occurred in 1877. Saint-Saëns's Requiem is cast in much the same spirit as that of Fauré. It is classically and liturgically oriented, tightly organized, full of pathos, yearning, and supplication. It consists of eight movements: Requiem-Kyrie, Dies irae, Rex tremendae, Oro supplex, Hostias, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. While the Sanctus and Benedictus are less than two minutes each, the lengthier opening and closing movements contain some of the work's most passionate, imploring music. …

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