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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: 4 minutes 46 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)

Marche religieuse, Op 107
composer
1897; possibly first performed and/or composed in November 1897 in Madrid at a private performace by the composer for Queen Marie Christine of Spain; published with a dedication to her in 1898

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In November 1897 Saint-Saëns gave a private performance for Queen Marie Christine of Spain at the church of San Francisco in Madrid. His short recital included the Rhapsodies, Op 7, the ‘mon cœur’ aria from Samson (transcribed on the spot) and a Marche religieuse. Whether this piece was written previously, was written specifically for this occasion or improvised here and notated later is unclear. In any event it was published the following year with a dedication to Marie Christine. This exuberant, powerful and elegant piece was one of two organ pieces that Saint-Saëns included in what is supposed to have been his last public recital, at the Salle Gaveau on 6 November 1913.

from notes by Andrew-John Smith © 2008

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