Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saint-Saëns - Symphony No. 3 in C minor with Organ, Op. 78 (1983)

Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

I had forgotten what a delight this piece is. Scored for a rather large orchestra, the sonority of the organ adds to the richness and weight of this music. Premiered in 1886, it exhibits all the usual characteristics of Romantic era music: beautiful soaring melodies in the upper strings and woodwinds, lots of chromaticism, and dense orchestration. I haven't heard much of Saint-Saëns' other music, but I'm willing to go along with conventional wisdom and say that this piece is the apex of the composer's work, influenced possibly by Mendelssohn and The Five. The recording here is very good, although a bit rushed at times. Also, during the climatic final movement, the strings and brass get harsh as they try to compete with the pipe organ. But those are minor complaints. This is one of those CDs that I listen to and ask myself why I don't listen to it more often.

I: Adagio-Allegro moderato-Poco adagio
II: Allegro moderato-Presto-Masetoso-Allegro
Note: Saint-Saëns intended a novel two-movement symphony. The composer did note in his own analysis of the symphony, however, that while it was cast in two movements, the traditional four movement structure is maintained.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: While an undergrad in college, I bought this CD to familiarize myself with this work because that was the sort of thing I did back then. (It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to do that sort of thing now). I'm fairly certain I purchased this particular recording for two reasons: first, it was a digital recording which was a huge deal back then, and second, it was Montreal conducted by Dutoit which, in my mind at that time, was second only to Chicago conducted by Solti. Admittedly, in the late '80s, these opinions were formed more by what I read that what I heard.

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