Camille Saint-Saëns's Musical Souvenirs

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Even in his 80s, Camille Saint-Saëns didn’t slow down. He practiced the piano two hours a day and still managed to travel the world, creating musical sketches of his adventures. Claude Debussy and a new generation of composers might have looked down on this elder statesman as old-fashioned, but Saint-Saëns never lost his joie de vivre.

In this second of two episodes devoted to the life and music of Saint-Saëns, host David Dubal reflects on the composer’s fascination with Franz Liszt, his tireless wanderlust and his stoicism in the face of horrific personal tragedy. The program features Vladimir Horowitz playing Danse Macabre and Shura Cherkassy plays one of Saint-Saëns most famous works, a piano transcription of "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals.

Program playlist (all pieces by Camille Saint-Saëns):

Scherzo for Two Pianos Op. 87
Isidore Philipp and Marcelle Herrenschmidt, piano
Arbiter

"The Swan," Carnival of the Animals
Shura Cherkassky, piano
Blank CD

Danse Macabre
Vladimir Horowitz, piano
RCA

Improvisation on the first movement of the Second Piano Concerto
Camille Saint-Saëns, piano
Naxos

Fourth Piano Concerto, third movement
Alfred Cortot, piano
EMI

Prelude and Fugue in F minor
Shura Cherkassky, piano
Ivory Classics

Bouree, Molto Allegro
Joao Carlos Martins, piano
Labor

Comments [2]

Bob E from Branford, CT

David Dubal, You have enriched, so masterfully, with such sensitivity and enlightenment. Good, keep going, My friend. You have done a delight, here.

Sep. 18 2014 08:47 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

Saint-Sae"ns Third "Organ" Symphony is dedicated to Liszt. Here's a master composer whose longevity allowed him to be friends with Bizet and Meyerbeer and to hear the premiere of "Le Sacre du Printemps" "The Rite of Spring". He must have stayed awake for a week after hearing that! I don't know the reference, but I think he asked "What instrument is that?" upon hearing the beginning with the bassoon in the high register. I think "Samson et Dalila" is a masterpiece as is "Danse Macabre" with the violin solo including a tritone,like the violin solo in Mahler's Fourth Symphony, second movement, the difference being all strings are tuned a whole tone higher than normal. I'd like to hear "Omphale's Spinning Wheel" on some programs of today's concerts, too.

Sep. 18 2014 08:44 AM

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