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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: 13 minutes 30 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)

Fantaisie No 3, Op 157
composer
1919

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Fantaisie No 3, Op 157, dates from 1919 and contains passages that, like the late wind sonatas, juxtapose music reminiscent of Ravel with that which might seem old fashioned even next to the 1857 fantasy. Indeed, this piece perhaps more than any other organ work encapsulates the problem that scholars have in trying to place Saint-Saëns’ style. As we would expect, it is carefully put together and makes use of sparse, minimal textures and a thinly accompanied hautbois solo. It is easy to understand on hearing this piece how Saint-Saëns came to be regarded as such a musical anachronism in a world that had already witnessed the first serialist experiments.

from notes by Andrew-John Smith © 2008

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