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Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93


This 'concert pair' of orchestral dances dates from 1892 when the composer was 57. Ancient dances clearly appealed to Saint-Saëns—he had written a five-movement Suite for orchestra nearly thirty years earlier which also featured a sarabande.

This particular dance-form originated in sixteenth-century Spain in triple-time, either slow or fast, and Saint-Saëns’s Sarabande, Op 93, with its distinctive emphasis on the second beat of the bar, is marked 'andante sostenuto—molto expressivo'. It is written for string orchestra and violin soloist and its heartfelt style is well-contrasted with the lively rigaudon which follows. This was a French folk-dance of the seventeenth century, and Saint-Saëns adds the woodwinds, brass and timpani for a vivacious little piece which has about it something of the quality of Bizet’s Symphony in C.

from notes by Edward Johnson © 2019


Saint-Saëns: Africa & other orchestral works
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