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Camille SAINT-SAňNS (1835-1921)
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op.78 'Organ' (transcr. by Guy Bovet) [38:34]
Romance for flute and organ, Op. 37 (arr. Ulrich Meldau) [7:13]
Tarantella for, flute, clarinet and organ, Op. 6 (arr. Ulrich Meldau) [7:33]
Anne Freitag (flute)
Francesco Negrini (clarinet)
Ulrich Meldau (organ)
Capriccio Baroque Orchestra/Karel Valter
rec. 2017, Reformierten Kirche Enge, ZŁrich
AEOLUS AE10097 SACD [53:25]

Saint-SaŽns composed his Third Symphony "in memory of Franz Liszt", and here is a performance unlike any you will have heard before. It's a transcription by Guy Bovet, a Swiss organist and composer. The Symphony conforms to a traditional four-movement structure, and many recordings, including this one, divide and track it that way, yet the composer conceived it in two movements. My review will be discussed as a four movement work. Bovet considers the original organ solo part limited, as it only appears in two movements, the second and fourth. His intention is to recreate a score, which provides the organist with "a real solo part", imaginatively constructed and "sufficiently rich and brilliant to present a rewarding task to the player". He has succeeded admirably, with the result that the soloist is engaged throughout. Bovet achieves this by transferring suitable orchestral passages to the solo instrument. In addition, he has made the decision to make the orchestral textures less heavy by scaling down the orchestral forces. Whilst retaining the original spirit of the composer, the end result is "lighter and more colourful".

Prior to this release coming my way, I’d never been a great fan of this work. All this has now changed, and this transformed newcomer has presented it in a new light. The more transparent sonorities, less heavy scoring, and ingenious solo part has, for me at least, opened the door on its manifold riches.

The Romance for flute and organ and the Tarantella for flute, clarinet and organ, in arrangements by Ulrich Meldau, make pleasing fillers. Both overflow with quintessential Saint-SaŽns melodic munificence, with the unusual instrumental groupings blending well.

Karel Valter directs a sure-footed account of the Symphony, one of Saint-SaŽns' best known works. The Capriccio Baroque Orchestra, who perform on historical instruments, have a pleasing luminous sound, with immaculate ensemble. Lauded for its magnificent acoustics, the Reformierten Kirche Enge, ZŁrich truly lives up to its reputation here, and a fine balance has been struck between organ and orchestra. Ulrich Meldau plays with commanding authority and mines the full potential of the Kuhn Organ with his resourceful registration choices. As in all Aeolus productions that I've encountered, the accompanying documentation in German and English is first class.

Stephen Greenbank



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