Saint-Saëns: Orchestral Works


Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi Chandos CHSA 5104***

Roger Nichols’s liner notes interestingly point out that most of the music here was written when Saint-Saëns “was still liable to be in advance of his audience”. The composer lived long enough to become a curmudgeon about the innovations of younger colleagues. But his Danse macabre was daring at the time of its 1875 premiere, and an early reviewer complained of “effects of the most horrible, hideous and disgusting sort”. Its off-colour violin solos and the dancing skeletons of the xylophone have kept it alive today, while his other, still attractive symphonic poems,

Le Rouet d’Omphale, Phaëton and La Jeunesse d’Hercule, have rather fallen out of sight. Neeme Järvi’s solidly delivered collection also includes some military marches, the Princesse jaune and Spartacus overtures, the barcarolle Une nuit à Lisbonne, and the Danse bacchanale from Samson et Dalila.