The Classics: August 10

Saint-Saens: Symphony No.3 ''Organ'', etc. Carl Landstrum (organ), Malmo Symphony Orchestra. Naxos CD

The Swedish orchestra, under French conductor Marc Soustrot, completes an impressive series of Saint-Saens symphonies with the most recorded and performed one, No.3 - inspired by Liszt and ground-breaking for its use of both organ and piano.

The composer regarded this as progress in modern instrumentation when he wrote the work in 1886.

The organ really only proclaims, but majestically, in the fourth movement to provide a finale that makes the work spectacular and grandiose.

Saint-Saens regarded this as his greatest achievement (and written at the same time was Carnival of the Animals, perhaps as light relief.)

Organist Landstrum does a splendid job without dwarfing the orchestra when he makes its presence known.

The Malmo Concert Hall instrument has an appealing brightness and the acoustic is more refined than an echoing cathedral, with excellent balance between organ and orchestra mostly throughout this recital; some of the descending pedal notes at the end could have been stronger.

The fillers are Saint-Saens' youthful Symphony in A major (c.1850) and Le rouet d'Omphale (1871) an impressively atmospheric tone poem.

The symphony is not numbered, being an obvious apprentice work in admiration of Mozart.

The tone poem is the best known of a series Saint-Saens composed using ancient Greek legends as his inspiration.

Telling a curious episode in the life of Hercules, it employs some unusual scoring at times: violin melodies doubled by trombones a couple of octaves lower, and a fading ending with an effective single, high violin harmonic.

The orchestral playing throughout is sure, strong and appealing.

Highlight: Saint-Saens heard at his best.

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter