Opus d’or “Unmissable”
Even today, for many music lovers the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns is principally associated with two works: the Symphony No. 3 with Organ, and the opera Samson et Dalila. A bit odd really, when one knows that the great Camille was the author of twelve other operas, most notably Henry VIII, Étienne Marcel, Les Barbares, and Ascanio. This recording presents ballet music from the lyrical works cited above, with that from Ascanio being a world première. As Hugh Macdonald in his notes rightly states: “To put together a selection of music for orchestra from hardly-known operas is to discover a treasure trove of lively and expressive music which reflects the tastes and fashions of the French Belle Époque.” Leading Orchestra Victoria, Guillaume Tourniaire’s inspired direction (when will we have a great modern version on SACD of Samson et Dalila?) is like fireworks of colour and atmosphere; it is joyous, sparkling, dramatic and solemn all at the same time...this SACD is a pleasant surprise for those wanting to discover new musical byways.