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Track(s) taken from CDA67713

Prelude and Fugue in B major, Op 99 No 2

1894; dedicated to Guilmant

Andrew-John Smith (organ)
Recording details: September 2004
La Madeleine, Paris, France
Produced by Dick Koomans
Engineered by Dick Koomans
Release date: July 2008
Total duration: 7 minutes 58 seconds

Cover artwork: 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


'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)
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

Les Trois Préludes et Fugues, op. 99, écrits en 1894, sont ses premières pièces majeures pour orgue en près de trente ans. Pour Vierne, ces partitions dédiées respectivement à Widor, Guilmant et Gigout devraient figurer au répertoire de tout organiste sérieux, et ce tant pour leur style que pour leur virtuosité. Elles combinent d’expressifs préludes avec des fugues ciselées que Saint-Saëns hésita quelque peu à écrire. Mais il fut, à l’évidence, satisfait du résultat: il les inclut dans le récital qu’il donna, en 1899, devant les universitaires de Trinity College (Cambridge). Si les préludes nos1 et 2 sont doux et charmants, le no3 est une toccata brillante, voire économe; la fugue qui lui fait suite repose sur un sujet ample et éminemment chantable, s’élevant jusqu’à une conclusion vibrante qui ne déparerait pas un opéra. Le deuxième volet du corpus, possiblement le plus célèbre, oppose à la musique de salon raffinée de son prélude un sujet de fugue plutôt enjoué. Par contraste, celui du volet en mi majeur tire son matériau des élégantes lignes du prélude même, illustrant à merveille le style discret de Saint-Saëns.

extrait des notes rédigées par Andrew-John Smith © 2008
Français: Hypérion

Die Trois Préludes et Fugues, op. 99 wurden 1894 geschrieben und sind Saint-Saëns’ erste gross angelegte Orgelstücke in nahezu dreißig Jahren. Sie sind jeweils Widor, Guilmant und Gigout gewidmet und sollten sich nach der Ansicht von Vierne wegen ihres Stils und ihrer Virtuosität im Repertoire jedes seriösen Organisten befinden. Sie kombinieren charaktervolle Präludien mit fein gearbeiteten Fugen, die Saint-Saëns nur zögernd schrieb. Er war offensichtlich mit den Resultaten zufrieden, denn er nahm sie 1899 in sein Recital für die Akademiker am Trinity College, Cambridge auf. Während die Präludien Nrn. 1 und 2 beide zart und anmutig sind, ist das dritte eine brillante, wenn auch ökonomische Toccata und die folgende Fuge über ein schweifendes, äußerst sangbares Thema, die sich zu einem mitreißenden Schluss steigert, der in der Oper nicht fehl am Platze wäre. Nr. 2 stellt ein eher keckes Fugenthema der gepflegten Salonmusik ihres Präludiums gegenüber. Das Fugenthema des E-Dur-Paares bezieht sein Material aus den eleganten Linien des Präludiums und ist ein schönes Beispiel für Saint-Saëns’ unaufdringlichen Stil.

aus dem Begleittext von Andrew-John Smith © 2008
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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