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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Saint Saens Organ Symphony
It is difficult to select a version of a work with so many conflicting reviews, and with most people recommending the version they own. I have acquired four versions of the Saint Saens Organ Symphony over the last 30 years, so I can directly compare these to give an honest. unbiased opinion.
This version under Christoph Eschenbach with Oliver Latry, Organ, is a live...
Published on 4 Feb 2011 by Mr. Andrew N. Taylor

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaden performance
I can understand all the American hype regarding this CD (it's an American Orchestra - say no more) and the entry of the organ in the last movement is spectacular, but I've never sat through a more boring and dull performance of this work (and believe me there are dozens on disc).
The sonics are wonderful but artistically this just not in the running. The two stars...
Published 24 months ago by Walter Fawcett Geoffrey


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Saint Saens Organ Symphony, 4 Feb 2011
By 
Mr. Andrew N. Taylor (Worsley, Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
It is difficult to select a version of a work with so many conflicting reviews, and with most people recommending the version they own. I have acquired four versions of the Saint Saens Organ Symphony over the last 30 years, so I can directly compare these to give an honest. unbiased opinion.
This version under Christoph Eschenbach with Oliver Latry, Organ, is a live recording, but I would not let that put you off, as there is no audience noise until the applause at the end. It is in my opinion, the finest version out of the four that I own. The performance is first rate, the recording spectacular, and there are two other major works included for organ and orchestra, the Poulenc Organ Concerto and the Samuel Barber Toccata Festiva, making it very good value. All movements are indexed, unlike in several of the other versions, allowing you to immediately find your favourite movement. For anyone with a subwoofer or large, full range loudspeakers, the low frequency extension is superior to the other three versions. but care must be taken not to over load the subwoofer amplifier, such is the power of the pedal notes.
Out of my other versions, the BatizSaint-SaŽns - Organ Symphony, and the Ormandy Saint-SaŽns - Organ Symphony No. 3 are fine, well recorded performancies, but the organ pedal is not quite as earth shattering, and the movements are not separately indexed, so I cannot for example, select the second slow movement, which is my favourite, directly, and, on the Ormandy version, there are no other works, making it poor value for money, (the Batiz has been re-released since I purchased my version and is now couped with the Carnival of the Animals). My final version, under James Levine and the Berlin PhilharmonicSaint-SaŽns: Organ Symphony is well performed, has index points and a coupling, but seriously lacking in the organ pedal department, for example in the slow second movement where the organ underpins the orchestra, so would not be recommended for those of you with a subwoofer.

Andrew Taylor

Worsley, Manchester
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good compromise, 19 Jun 2008
By 
Mr. John Manning (Penarth, Vale of Glam Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
The booklet with this disc reveals that the Fred J Cooper Memorial Organ in Verizon Hall, used for this recording, was inaugurated in May 2006 and is the largest concert hall organ in the US. From the evidence available here, it is a magnificent instrument, capable of a wide range of volume and colour, and is demonstrated admirably by Olivier Latry.
Barber's Toccata Festiva opens the programme with fire and verve, and is given a committed performance.
The Poulenc organ concerto is more often heard, and I fancy more detail to be audible than in some other recordings. Again all musicians do it full justice.
The main event on this disc has to be the third symphony of Saint-Saens. I have seen some discussion of Eschenbach's tempi elsewhere, but I find them totally acceptable and sustained by the orchestra with conviction. Integration of organ with orchestra is fine, and the rousing finale is given with panache. The appreciative audience applauds enthusiastically.
And there lies my one criticism of this production - the compromise made in order to exclude audience noise. Overall the impression is of a close-miked recording, sensitively balanced but lacking in hall ambience. For example, the mighty organ chord opening the final movement of the symphony should echo around the hall, but doesn't. This one criticism apart, I would have no hesitation in giving this disc my approval.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive recording of the Saint-Saens 'Organ' symphony, 6 Oct 2008
By 
Mikemarknine (Worcester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
This live recording, featuring the largest concert hall organ in the United States, and the resident organist of Notre Dame, Paris, was recommended in the BBC Radio 3 programme 'Building a library' earlier this year. It did sound quite good on the stereo radio.
Christoph Eschenbach's pace is more leisurely than some of the available recordings, and the organ entry in the final movement continues this pace. But WHAT an entry! The power behind this organ is almost unbelievable, and (sadly) eclipses the Klais organ in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, where I have heard this performance live. I can only imagine the reaction of the audience in Verizon Hall at the end of the concert; the applause has obviously been muted, but adds to the magnificence of the recording. I do have both the Simon Preston (BPO / James Levine) and the Peter Hurford (OSM / Charles Dutoit) recordings, but this much newer recording is in a completely different class. Eschenbach, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Olivier Latry are to be congratulated on what for me is now the finest CD in my collection of some 400, and the BBC WERE right to choose this recording.
As a final comment, the live recording does NOT detract from the performance, and indeed has not had the editing (sometimes poorly) of a few of the other available recordings! In one word, BRILLIANT!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaden performance, 30 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
I can understand all the American hype regarding this CD (it's an American Orchestra - say no more) and the entry of the organ in the last movement is spectacular, but I've never sat through a more boring and dull performance of this work (and believe me there are dozens on disc).
The sonics are wonderful but artistically this just not in the running. The two stars are for the organ only!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Surround Sound., 4 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
A Good quality 5.0 (Yes,Not 5.1) Surround Sound recording,especially as its a Live performance. Also a usefull album to test your equipment! In particular, the last two movements of Saint-Saens "Organ Symphony" will put your "Woofers" through their paces!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best ever recording of Saint-Saens symphony No 3, 14 July 2009
By 
Mart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
German born (1940) Christoph Eschenbach conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra at the May 2006 concerts to mark the first public display of the newly completed Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the largest in the USA, at the 2500 seat Verizon Hall in Philadelphia.

The works by Poulenc and Barber works are not their most popular but the Saint -Saens symphony is a familiar concert favourite and is the stand out piece on this SACD disc.

French organist Olivier Latry (born 1962) enjoys the honour of playing the debut performance of the huge 7000 pipe organ, and his measured and mature manner of playing belies his relative youthfulness, resulting in perhaps the finest recording of the Saint-Saens organ symphony available
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is great - just love the Poulenc and the Saint-Saens, 27 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
This is great - just love the Poulenc and the Saint-Saens. Sound great through my system and woofer picks up bass really well. A great coupling
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Organ Symphony, 3 Jan 2010
By 
C. M. Phelan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
The organ symphony is very well reproduced and the notes are exceptionally clear. I wasn't so impressed with the other two pieces. I purchased the CD for the Symphony specifically.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best, 6 Jan 2013
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Rodney Bencke (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
This is a marvellous piece of music, some have called it Beethoven's Symphony No 10! I have a number of recordings of this great work by Saint-Saens and this is one I return to often. The quality of the recording is almost faultless. The reading of the music, the tempos and the quality of the music making, make this a most desirable recording to own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 'Organ'/Poulenc - Organ Concerto/Barber - Toccata Festiva (Audio CD)
Well worth the purchase.
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