The emotional expression of Opus 160 (1920) is grandiose. This Élégie
starts in a surprisingly foursquare way, though some of the composer’s usual subtleties of harmony and form appear later and help to build a powerful climax. It’s inscribed to the memory of Alexis de Castillon, gifted composer and co-founder with Saint-Saëns of the Société Nationale de Musique. Castillon (1838–1873) only found his voice as a composer in the last years of his life. Looking back over his long career, Saint-Saëns must have been struck by the contrasting destinies—his colleague who had died before achieving any renown, and his own life, full of public honour but extending into what must often have seemed an alien era, increasingly remote from the revered classical masters who had been his Aunt Charlotte’s contemporaries.
from notes by Duncan Druce © 1999