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CD Spotlight

UNADULTERATED DELIGHT

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'... 45 minutes of pure heaven ...'

Saint-Saëns' 'La Princesse Jaune' -
with RODERIC DUNNETT

 

Here is unadulterated delight. Saint-Saëns may slip just enough Arabian Nights into his beautifully turned four-movement Suite algérienne [listen -- track 4, 0:22-1:21] to recall the nostalgic heyday of Algérie francaise, when fundamentalists didn't chop up whole villages in internecine fun; but his superb orchestration leaves one in no doubt that he has the Franco-Russian entente more in mind : his orientalism comes from west of Saladin, and it's so assured, it takes on Rimsky-Korsakov at his own game. Actually, Saint-Saëns wrote most of the suite in Boulogne, as Edward Blakeman's informative notes point out, though you wouldn't guess : not a white cliff in sight.

Saint-Saëns: Suite algérienne - La Princesse jaune (c) 2000 Chandos Records Ltd.

I had a few minor doubts about the recorded sound of this Lugano-made Swiss Radio recording. But these proved trivial. More important, it's immediate. The orchestra has a real quality of pathos : the plaintiveness of the woodwind (something about the flutes), the gorgeously hazy horn quality, a wan vibrato in the trombones, the wistful tentativeness of the strings (like some hazy Griegian twilight in the Reverie [listen -- track 3, 0:22-1:22]); even a slight approximation in the tuning, such as you get on some fabulous Melodiya recording from the Mravinsky era, a throwback to van Beinum and Fjelstad and Beecham's Delius.

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Copyright © 27 January 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - CHANDOS CHAN 9837

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