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Music by Saint-Saëns -
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'The LPO is in peak condition ...'

Saint-Saëns: Africa. © 2007 Cala Records Ltd

I welcomed the present disc with more than a little enthusiasm -- Wowee ! -- a 78-minute Saint-Saëns programme and not a whisper of The Swan, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, his 'Organ' Symphony, or the 2nd Piano Concerto.

It's true, recordings of this sort are not so uncommon these days. Yet nearly three decades ago they were thin on the ground. Back then, in 1980, Claudio Abbado with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus blazed a trail with an innovative, 'off the wall' Mussorgsky programme for RCA.

That memorable CD included items little known to a majority of collectors; viz -- Khovanshchina: Galitsin's Journey, Joshua, Salammbô: Chorus of Priestesses; Scherzo; Destruction of Sennacherib; Night on Bald Mountain (with chorus); Oedipus in Athens; Khovanshchina: Prelude, and Triumphal March.

Now, as CEO of Cala Records, conductor Geoffrey Simon deserves unstinting praise for this captivating Saint-Saëns initiative.

Several lesser-name soloists, co-opted for the occasion, are equally welcome for their contributions to the outright artistry bestowed on Simon's 'lollipops'.

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Copyright © 12 August 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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