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Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony; Poulenc: Organ Concerto
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Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony; Poulenc: Organ Concerto

11 Sep 2006 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 2006 Decca Music Group Limited
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 56:27
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,564 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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By sanp on 12 Jan 2012
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Just wat my partner wanted, easy to download and no fuss, reasonable price and with one click idea all done with in minutes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Fine Pairing: Contrasts in French Music 19 April 2008
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Charles Dutoit knows his way around both of these audience pleasing works of orchestral music that includes the mighty organ. Though few will forget Munch and the Boston Symphony recording of the Saint-SaŽns when listening to these performances, there are few recordings of either work that come together on one CD to show the spectrum of time and flavor of the French repertoire.

Saint-SaŽns Symphony No.3 ('The Organ') is not a concerto. The organ is simply another of the keyboard instruments that are part of the fabric of the orchestra. Dutoit acknowledges this fact and never allows the organ to override the total effect. Yes, the organ still remains a glorious 'big finish' to the work, but in the inner sections the gentle introduction of the organ keyboards are subtle and enhance the sound of the strings. This is a very elegant reading of a score than can easily become pompous in the hands of conductors less intuitive.

The Poulenc Organ Concerto is heard far too seldom. It contains all the sparkle and wit so associated with Poulenc's works and yet reaches for moments of religious inspiration with equal success. The organist for both works is Peter Hurford and understands the control of the power of the organ well - keeping it secondary in the Saint-SaŽns and making it primary in the Poulenc. Dutoit conducts both the Montréal Symphony Orchestra in the Saint-SaŽns and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in the Poulenc. At a recent concert as guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall, Dutoit simply used the skills of the orchestra keyboard personnel for a fine performance of the Saint-SaŽns and the result was a glowingly golden sound in that great hall. This CD is a bargain that should not be passed by for the music library. Grady Harp, April 08
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Delightful Performances of these Saint Saens & Poulenc Works for Solo Organ and Orchestra 3 Aug 2007
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Newly reissued by Decca for its "The Originals" series of legendary recordings, this recording of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony and the Poulenc Organ Concerto, merely emphasizes the excellent chemistry between conductor Charles Dutoit and organist Peter Hurford. Both were recorded in the interiors of cathedrals; the former in Montreal, Canada and the latter, in Britain, presumably, in London. For both the acoustics are quite simply exemplary, adding immensely to the lush, warm performances of the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal (Saint Saens) and the Philharmonia Orchestra (Poulenc). But what is most intriguing is the vast study in contrasts between the richly textured score of Saint-Saens, which can be seen as a posthumous homage to his mentor Liszt, especially in its grand Romantic flourishes of intensely vivid orchestral color, especially from the winds and strings, and Poulenc's own Modernist sensibilities featuring ample shading of the organ's many distinctive colors. In Saint-Saens' majestic Symphony No. 3 in C minor op. 78 "Organ", nearly three-quarters of the score pass onward in often grandly dramatic fashion, before the organ makes its presence felt in the approximately final seven minutes of the score. In stark contrast with the Saint-Saens symphony, the Poulenc Organ Concerto begins with the organ as it announces the start of this work with a thunderous reverberation, and this is soon followed by repeated instances of tranquility and joyful, electrifyingly, loud passages from the organ itself. I'm not sure whether these are definitive recordings of either work, but they are excellent recordings nonetheless, with both orchestras led capably by conductor Charles Dutoit. For anyone seeking an inexpensive digital recording of these works, then I think you'll be as delighted as I was upon hearing it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Giddy Poulenc; Saint Saens is rushed, colorless, flat 19 April 2008
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Another recording by Charles Dutoit, a conductor whose reputation befuddles me. This is a rushed performance of the Saint Saens that takes advantage of none of the charm, warmth and majesty in the score (even if I've often found some of the majesty to be pumped up on steroids). This is a very brisk, thinly-textured, shapeless "Organ"; it's not flaccid (we don't want a flaccid organ, do we?) but it's not interesting even though it's tightly-coiled. The opening ra ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta... rhythm after the introductory adagio is shapeless and machine-gun like, and Dutoit doesn't take advantage of the majestic climax waiting ahead. The rest of the recording is likewise uninspired, like a quick run-through. There a couple slip ups including one trumpet overblow that I'm amazed was not edited out, and the sound is rather up-close and colorless. I'm a little puzzled by John Kwok's review, where he says the organ does not appear until seven minutes before curtain. Actually it comes in at around the ten minute mark, a quarter of the way through, in a brilliantly dignified "piano", and is then heard throughout. I can't imagine what he was hearing, but it wasn't this CD.

The Poulenc fares far better with me--I don't know if Dutoit is better here or if there are even finer performances of this piece that would subsequently spoil this one for me, because, hate to admit it, I've never heard this work before. (I am sadly ignorant of much Poulenc.) This is a blast, but I have nothing to compare it to, just going on my gut here. This is a somewhat daffy work that does not take itself seriously and just races through time and space in utter abandon; one section reminded me of proto-Phillip Glass. A fun piece that I now can't wait to hear more versions of. The three stars up there are for it. For the Saint Saens, I'd recommend Karajan on DG if you want epic and stately, or Ormandy on Telarc if you want thick (even bloated, maybe) and lush--admittedly with too much reverb, but oh, this is one of the few commercial recordings out there that captures the Philadelphia strings in all their glory. It's far better than this anemic mess, at any rate.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Competant recording that falls down against the competition 14 April 2010
By Please hold the line while we try to connect you... the number you are calling knows you are waiting. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The orchestra turns in a good (if not great) performance of Saint-Saens' mighty Third Symphony. The orchestra is supported by wonderfully clear sound with great warmth and atmosphere. This upholds a rather tame, flat and lifeless interpretation of a central work - this is a shame considering the obvious quality of Dutoit evident in his superb Holst Planets Suite.

Performance: 4/5
The orchestra is on form on this record. There is a wonderful sense of ensemble and cohesiveness from beginning to end which is a treat in its robust quality. There is an affectionate way with the music from this orchestra which brings a warmth of its own. The traditionally clear and hefty sonorities of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra make a welcome experience in this music. All the usual richness is there but the extra sense of life and excitement that pervades this music is not disseminated well. This is a disappointment from a quality orchestra. The organ work is very incisive even if it lacks the inspiration, fire or wit of other interpretations. The duelling pianos in the Symphony's central section come across colourfully and wittily.

Sound: 5/5
The Decca engineers have done a wonderful job here. There is little if anything to complain about. The sound quality is clear, warm and weighty, providing a good sense of atmosphere very effective in this music. The balance is generally just right allowing the various sections of the orchestra to annunciate their lines precisely and effectively in the overall mix. Listen to the opening of the Organ Symphony and the impression is of the seamless interweaving of musical lines. The engineering has really captured a quality orchestra's sound in a quality orchestral performance. There is one minor quibble - the organ is very forward and dominant in the finale though in the adagio it is well balanced and ethereally distanced in the mix. A minor problem that isn't worth deducting a point for and it may possibly be the only recording issue on the whole disc. Overall, very well done Decca!

Interpretation: 2/5
Here we come up against problems. Given the scope of the competition, if any record is going to be recommendable, this is where it stands or falls. Unfortunately, this is where this record falls. The atmosphere that the fine engineering has brought is rarely, if ever, added to by the conductor. The orchestra is retained tightly in hand with much of its inherent colour and charm lost as a result while Dutoit fails to clarify what is needed/wanted. This, occasionally leads to weaknesses of diction. This is a shame because the eloquence of the orchestra is generally commendable. Listen to the rhythmic quavering of the motto theme in the opening of the Third Symphony - there is some sloppiness and loss of clarity. Moreover, the interpretation is stodgy or rushed by turns. The Third Symphony's slow movement fails to portray any sense of beauty or yearning that many other records highlight(i.e. Levine, Barenboim or Karajan) while the Maestoso thematic moment of the finale is driven tightly into staccato rhythmic pulses lacking in shape or charm (contrast this harshness with the sublime account from Charles Munch and his Boston Orchestra on RCA). The sense, throughout, is generally of the organist doing all the hard work with only cursory support from Dutoit.

Overall, the organ work ranges from very good to stunning while the orchestra is a model of solidity. Unfortunately, Dutoit lets the performance down. If he had brought that life, colour and emotion, which he introduced in the Third Symphony's final coda, to the whole record, this would have been fantastic. It would have had the immersiveness it otherwise lacks. Against the wealth of competition, this record falls.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Intense Saint-Saens and Poulenc 16 May 2014
By Joseph Kline PhD, MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In this Decca Originals disc, Charles Dutoit leads the Philharmonia Orchestra in a performance of Camille Saint-Saens' popular Organ Symphony with the world-class organist, Peter Hurford at the organ. Filling out the disc is Frances Poulenc's Organ Concerto.

Dutoit's reading is intense and dynamic, but he takes the fast movements at a pace that precludes savoring the writing. In the Presto, the orchestra can barely keep up with Dutoit. You can almost smell the smoke rising from the violins by the conclusion of the symphony. But even with the sometimes breathless tempo, Dutoit's reading is second only to that of Ormandy/Philadelphia/Murray on Telarc. The orchestra is recorded very well but there isn't nearly as much space surrounding the Philharmonia as in the Philadelphia setting. Plus, Ormandy's recording is now available as an SACD that is absolutely one of the finest SACD's that I have heard.

The Poulenc Organ Concerto is interesting but melodically pales by comparison to the Saint-Saens. Nevertheless, it is an interesting work and performed well - in fact, better than its discmate.

The intensity of Dutoit's interpretations of the Poulenc and Saint-Saens make the album recommended, but certainly second to Ormandy.
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