Respectable Saint-Saëns Third From Utah

Review by: David Hurwitz

Saint-Saens3

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

Thierry Fischer leads the Utah Symphony in a very respectable performance of Saint-Saëns’ ever-popular but difficult to put across Third Symphony. It gets better as it goes. The first movement could have more fire, and the Poco adagio more flow, but the Scherzo is quite wonderfully sharp and clear, and the finale suitably grand but never too heavy. Excellent engineering certainly helps, with Paul Jacobs’ organ intelligently balanced and well-integrated into the sonic framework. There’s a certain coolness to the interpretation that prevents me from feeling completely enthusiastic about it, but you’ve got to acknowledge its finer points.

The couplings may make a difference to collectors. The Bachanale from Samson et Dalila really needs to sound sluttier. Now granted, even at his steamiest Saint-Saëns isn’t exactly a slutty composer, but there’s still more sex and passion in the music than Fischer and team give us here, however well played. They’re much better in the Three Symphonic Tableaux from the incidental music to La foi (“Faith”). The play may have been a bomb, but the music reveals the composer happily working in his exotic, “Egyptian” manner, and it’s very pretty if a tad long for the material. A nice disc. Not thrilling perhaps, but well made.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Symphony: Munch (RCA); Bacchanale: Ormandy (Sony Classical)

  • SAINT-SAËNS, CAMILLE:
    Symphony No. 3 ("Organ"); Three Symphonic Tableaux from "La foi"; Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila

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