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Hyperion Records

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Interior of La Madeleine, Paris by Philippe Benoist (1813-c1905)
Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris / Lauros / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67713
Recording details: September 2004
La Madeleine, Paris, France
Produced by Dick Koomans
Engineered by Dick Koomans
Release date: July 2008
Total duration: 7 minutes 8 seconds

'Saint-Saëns has an originality and charm all his own … Smith's warm and sympathetic rubato is a consistent delight, and his inspired choice to make the recording on an instrument played regularly by Saint-Saëns means that listeners can relish the authentic Gallic tones of the splendid La Madeleine organ' (Gramophone)

'Andrew-John Smith's reappraisal of Saint-Saëns' organ works is a real winner. The Trios Préludes et Fugues, three Fantasies and other works are performed with great sensitivity on the organ of the Madeleine … these pieces illustrate a remarkable synthesis of beauty and structure from France's most outstanding composer of the 19th century' (Choir & Organ)

'The charm and elegance of these preludes, fugues and fantasies … brilliantly played by the hugely talented Smith on the great Cavaillé-Coll instrument that Saint-Saëns knew' (The Observer)

'There are magical moments aplenty here … Smith is in a class of his own when it comes to compelling performances of these pieces. They are by far and away the best recordings of Saint-Saëns' organ music since Daniel Roth's three LP-set in 1982 … deeply compelling in their interpretative ardour and musical insight. What's more, there's even a touch of true flamboyance … any composer of integrity, neglected or otherwise, should be profoundly grateful for such compelling and persuasive advocacy as this' (International Record Review)

'The excellent performances apart, the main selling point of this disc is the opportunity to hear some of Saint-Saëns's organ works played on the very instrument for which they were composed—the magnificent Cavaillé-Col at La Madeleine, Paris … performed with flair and sensitivity by Smith who also contributes the excellent booklet notes' (Classic FM Magazine)

Prelude and Fugue in E flat major, Op 99 No 3
composer
1894; dedicated to Gigout

Prelude  [2'08]
Fugue  [5'00]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Trois Préludes et Fugues, Op 99 were written in 1894 and are Saint-Saëns’ first significant organ pieces for nearly thirty years. Dedicated to Widor, Guilmant and Gigout respectively they should, in the opinion of Vierne, be in the repertoire of every serious organist, both for their style and virtuosity. They combine characterful preludes with well-worked fugues which Saint-Saëns expressed some hesitation in writing. He was clearly satisfied with the results however as he included them in his 1899 recital in front of the academics at Trinity College, Cambridge. Whilst the preludes of Nos 1 and 2 are both gentle and graceful, the third is a brilliant, if economical, toccata; the fugue which follows it is based on a sweeping and eminently singable subject that builds to a rousing conclusion not out of place in the opera house. The second of the set, arguably the best known, sets off a somewhat jaunty fugue subject against the refined salon music of its prelude. In contrast the fugue subject of the E major derives its material from the elegant lines of the prelude itself and is a beautiful example of Saint-Saëns’ understated style.

from notes by Andrew-John Smith © 2008

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