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Hyperion Records

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Exterior view 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 CDA67815
Recording details: May 2009
La Madeleine, Paris, France
Produced by Michael Hedley
Engineered by Dick Koomans
Release date: August 2011
Total duration: 1 minutes 13 seconds

'O lucky Saint-Saëns! Lucky three times over! First, fortunate to have presided over Cavaillé-Coll's magnificent organ in La Madeleine; second, blessed with friends and pupils who revered him and inspired his improvisations; and third, surely grateful now to have in Andrew-John Smith an advocate who understands just how to lift from the printed page and project this remarkably rigorous yet beguiling music. The combination of this artist playing this music in such an authentic setting proves to be unbeatable' (Gramophone)

'Recorded on the Cavaillé-Coll instrument in Paris’s La Madeleine, where Saint-Saëns was organist for two decades, this programme centres on the sort of improvisations that spurred Liszt to describe Saint-Saëns as the finest organist in the world' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The preludes and fugues make a sharply contrasted trio: the first and last, in D minor and C, are grand in scale and conception; the second, in G, is much more compact and relaxed. Smith makes full use of the resources of the Madeleine instrument to colour them all' (The Guardian)

Verset in F major
composer
? circa 1855

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
Two untitled miniatures survive only in manuscript sources at the Bibliothèque nationale and were printed for the first time in Otto Depenheuer’s 1991 edition where they acquired the working title of Deux Versets. Though they don’t belong together this is a good description of both the function and content of the pieces. As free works they might be used in all manner of liturgical situations and are surely typical, if youthful, examples of Saint-Saëns’ small-scale improvisations. Only seventeen bars long, motivic material is gently worked with exquisite craftsmanship.

from notes by Andrew-John Smith © 2011

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