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  • Camille Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony



    Here's my review of Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3.
    Reference Recordings RM-1514.


    By comparison, Munch on RCA is thick and plodding as is the sound. Paray on Mercury has vigor though not quite the inspiration of Stern. Click image for larger version  Name:	AAPC_2341__91386__10152013102315-5687.jpg Views:	1 Size:	8.3 KB ID:	47640
    Click image for larger version  Name:	AMER_30632__117096__08022016093222-3179.jpg Views:	1 Size:	10.0 KB ID:	47641

  • #2
    my first listen to Saint Saens 3 organ sym was the tried-and-true telarc with Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orch and Michael Murray. it was the version I compared everything to until I heard the Fremaux conducting the CBSO on EMI. I haven't heard the Stern yet, thanks for the link.

    TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

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    Comment


    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      I have them all including the carnival of Animals you didn't list. I prefer the EMI over the Klavier, even the EMI over Chad's one-step redo of the Klavier - all of which are the same performances as the EMI.

    • Guest's Avatar
      Guest commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for that, Rob. I'm having a hard time locating a M or NM copy of TWO 404.

    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      patience grasshopper NM or EX+ copies are out there from the usual suspects.

  • #3
    Thanks, Tim for a great review. I bought the RR vinyl some time ago, but I haven't listened to it carefully (just ripped it). I have all the records listed above. HP listed both the Paray and Fremaux in his TAS Super Disc list. The standard favorite is the Munch. My favorite has been the Fremaux, (there is also another Fremaux TWO series on the Super Disc List, Massenet Le Cid Ballet music EMI TWO350). I remember playing the Fremaux when I had my Acoustat 2+2's back in the '80's. The organ pedals pinned the big electrostatic panels. I eventually got a pair of Entec subs, which shook the room, but stopped the pinning.

    I'll have to listen to the Michael Stern album tonight.

    BTW, back in the mid '60's when I was in college, I heard the BSO guest conducted by Charles Munch (the only time I ever heard him conduct), playing the Organ Symphony, in Symphony Hall with Berj Zamkochian soloing on the organ - same one as in the record. By that time Leinsdorf had taken over from Munch as the music director, so Munch wasn't around much. Monteux had died by that time. The deep bass pedals in the first movement (side 1)(deeper, though not as raucous as the second movement - side 2) really shook the hall.

    Larry
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    • Dre_J
      Dre_J commented
      Editing a comment
      Larry, That Le Cid is excellent. I have the Klavier KS 522 from 1973 (that will travel with me occasionally) and the EMI TWO350 (that never leaves the house). Thumbs Up!

  • #4
    Thanks for that review Tim. This reads like a great Lp to have.
    This review has reminded me to take another look at what I have with regards to the Saint-Saens symphony no. 3 (organ)
    (anecdote) The first time I heard it in my system was on tape. I had been to one of my local hpb stores when I came upon a group of commercial prerecorded reel to reel tapes up for sale at $1.99 each. I believe there were a dozen titles within that small group. I bought the lot of them. Since then I have not seen any more reel tapes at that particular store. Lucky me. Anyway back to Saint-Saens. One of those tapes was the Mercury Paray/Detroit performance. Within the box I found both the reel with tape and also a card from Bel Canto.



    When I first played this tape I had no idea what to expect, apart from what the title indicates. Overall I found it a pleasant enough listen but when the organ kicks in well into the 2nd movement, I experienced some profound and powerfull organ chords containing significant amounts of low pedal bass. The kind of bass that is felt in ones bones and in the gut. In a pleasant way. Good stuff.

    Since then I have searched for and found a few different Lp performances of this work. I also searched for and found a nice clean copy of the Telarc - Ormandy/Murphy performance from 1980. None of the Lps can reproduce the profound level of bass found on that tape. Although the Telarc comes closer than any of the Lps I've tried so far. Including the mercury Lp of the same recording, which is essentially the same listen except for less bass impact.

    Another thing about the Detroit/Paray recording is that its sense of recording space and ambience are almost nil. I guess this can be blamed upon the venue. It was performed/recorded in the - then new - Detroit Concert hall which, as history tells us, was a failure of acoustics.

    I also have the Munch/BSO recording on SACD. I might play the cd when I want to hear a different performance of Debussy - La Mer, Not so much for the No. 3 Organ.
    Also there is an Ormandy - E. Power Biggs performance of No. 3 Organ on Columbia which I give a listen to on occasion.

    I agree that Saint-Saen's Symphony No 3 isn't really much to think on, nor does it seem to take the listener on a journey to somewhere. Yet it is exceptionally pleasing to hear and becomes profound when the organ plays. It's no secret, Saint-Saens himself was a noted organist in his day. So...he wrote a symphony that featured his favorite instrument. We might presume this.

    Thanks to your review, I have another Lp on my list to acquire.

    Btw, Saint-Saens is noted for works other than that Organ symphony. One tune of his I really like is the Dance Macabre.

    -Steve




    Last edited by user510; 03-21-2017, 01:21 AM.
    webmaster at The Analog Dept.
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    • #5
      I like the symphony. I think all I have is Munch and Paray but I may have others.
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      • #6
        Originally posted by user510 View Post
        Thanks for that review Tim. This reads like a great Lp to have.
        This review has reminded me to take another look at what I have with regards to the Saint-Saens symphony no. 3 (organ)
        (anecdote) The first time I heard it in my system was on tape. I had been to one of my local hpb stores when I came upon a group of commercial prerecorded reel to reel tapes up for sale at $1.99 each. I believe there were a dozen titles within that small group. I bought the lot of them. Since then I have not seen any more reel tapes at that particular store. Lucky me. Anyway back to Saint-Saens. One of those tapes was the Mercury Paray/Detroit performance. Within the box I found both the reel with tape and also a card from Bel Canto.




        When I first played this tape I had no idea what to expect, apart from what the title indicates. Overall I found it a pleasant enough listen but when the organ kicks in well into the 2nd movement, I experienced some profound and powerfull organ chords containing significant amounts of low pedal bass. The kind of bass that is felt in ones bones and in the gut. In a pleasant way. Good stuff.

        Since then I have searched for and found a few different Lp performances of this work. I also searched for and found a nice clean copy of the Telarc - Ormandy/Murphy performance from 1980. None of the Lps can reproduce the profound level of bass found on that tape. Although the Telarc comes closer than any of the Lps I've tried so far. Including the mercury Lp of the same recording, which is essentially the same listen except for less bass impact.

        Another thing about the Detroit/Paray recording is that its sense of recording space and ambience are almost nil. I guess this can be blamed upon the venue. It was performed/recorded in the - then new - Detroit Concert hall which, as history tells us, was a failure of acoustics.

        I also have the Munch/BSO recording on SACD. I might play the cd when I want to hear a different performance of Debussy - La Mer, Not so much for the No. 3 Organ.
        Also there is an Ormandy - E. Power Biggs performance of No. 3 Orgon on Columbia which I give a listen to on occasion.

        I agree that Saint-Saen's Symphony No 3 isn't really much to think on, nor does it seem to take the listener on a journey to somewhere. Yet it is exceptionally pleasing to hear and becomes profound when the organ plays. It's no secret, Saint-Saens himself was a noted organist in his day. So...he wrote a symphony that featured his favorite instrument. We might presume this.

        Thanks to your review, I have another Lp on my list to acquire.

        Btw, Saint-Saens is noted for works other than that Organ symphony. One tune of his I really like is the Dance Macabre.

        -Steve
        The Martinon performance on Decca or London is exceptional. The Decca unfortunately is rare and absurdly priced but the London pressing is very good too.





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        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
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        • #7
          Curiously, The Penguin Guide gave its coveted Rosette to the Barenboim/CSO performance of the Symphony #3 on DGG. Curiously indeed since they are quite effusive about the sound quality given the organ was recorded separately and then folded in. How weird must that sound? Indeed, I have never heard a demo quality DGG ever. May have to find an early pressing for shit and giggles.

          The Fremeaux/CBSO and Mehta/LAPO also come in for praise. Penguin says the Fremaux (EMI Greesleeve at that in Quad) sounded splendidly opulent ....the performance is brilliantly played but warm-hearted too."
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          Comment


          • 1morerecord2clean
            1morerecord2clean commented
            Editing a comment
            I have the CSO. I think it was recorded at the Church of Saint Michelle. I don't recall the organ having been recorded remotely and folded in but perhaps so. I have a cd of Maazel and Pittsburgh in which that was definitely the case. In any case the CSO sounds less than stellar. The church is huge and the reverberance clearly showed the orchestra members unable to hear one another so they are all over the place. Very rag tag. Sounds like they blew in, one quick run through at key points in the music and then the mikes were turned on.

        • #8
          Originally posted by user510 View Post
          Thanks for that review Tim. ...

          Btw, Saint-Saens is noted for works other than that Organ symphony. One tune of his I really like is the Dance Macabre.

          -Steve
          Yes I like Danse Macabre too - the one of the (in)famous Witches Brew.

          You may also like S-S' 'Havanaise' and 'Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso' as found on this Decca (SXL 2197) re-issue from Speakers Corner. Thoroughly enjoyable listen with fantastic sound.





          Comment


          • #9
            Tim, I played the RefRec and parts of the Munch and Fremaux last night. I agree that Michael Stern (Isaac's son) has the sense of forward propulsion, more than Munch. I would characterize the Munch as more gallic gentility than sluggishness. One thing I did notice. On the very deep bass organ pedal around the 12-13th minute of side one, I don't hear the room shaking bass in the RefRec, while I do hear it in the Munch and Fremaux. My big Velodyne DD18 comes to life with those notes. What is a bit strange is that normally, Keith Johnson is very good about getting the deep bass in his recordings. I may ask Paul Stubblebine what he heard during the mastering, which I am quite certain came from the digital master, since Keith had stopped using his custom focus gap tape recorder by the time of this recording. (I think just about all - of the recent LP's that Paul has mastered for RR in the past few years have come from digital masters. The only albums that had original analogue masters were Exotic Dances and the Mozart Piano Concertos with Eugene Istomin, both of which were released on Tape Project (not sure whether Paul used those for his LP work).

            Larry
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            • Guest's Avatar
              Guest commented
              Editing a comment
              Appreciate your thoughts on this, Larry; I always learn from you. You're being kind to Munch. ;-) Let us know if you hear from Paul S.

              Btw, is your book still available?

            • astrotoy
              astrotoy commented
              Editing a comment
              Tim, thanks. I'll ask Paul. As far as my book, with Winston Ma's death, I think it is going out of print. I found copies at Elusive Disc who was doing the North American distribution. It sold out the first printing, and I think we are close to the end of the second and final printing.

              http://www.elusivedisc.com/Decca-Sup...nfo/FIMUHD088/

          • #10
            Originally posted by tima View Post

            Yes I like Danse Macabre too - the one of the (in)famous Witches Brew.

            You may also like S-S' 'Havanaise' and 'Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso' as found on this Decca (SXL 2197) re-issue from Speakers Corner. Thoroughly enjoyable listen with fantastic sound.


            Some more of Saint-Saens works: His most famous work is the Carnival of the Animals, which is actually a humorous piece, for two pianos and orchestra. The version with the British comedienne Bea Lillie (Decca SXL2218), paired with Peter and the Wolf, is a lot of fun. The "Swan" is the most famous excerpt from the Carnival. My friend Mike Mailes' first classical music assignment was when Decca recorded this in February 1960. His was assigned was to go to the London Zoo with a tape recorder and capture the sounds of the different animals, which were used in the recording. Mike told me the story of his adventures which I related in my Decca book.

            Sant-Saens also wrote 5 piano concerti, and #2 is the most famous. There is a picture of the cover of the Rubinstein album of the concerto, partly hidden by the Organ Symphony tape at the top of Steve's post (#4). Also Saint-Saens most famous opera is Samson and Delilah. The great Bacchanale from the last act of the opera, is a favorite showpiece. It is in the RefRec Exotic Dances album.

            As you know, in the Bible, the beautiful seductress Delilah cuts off Samson's hair, causing him to lose his strength. When I was a teenager in the early '60's my parents took me to a performance of the opera (Lyric Opera in Chicago) along with our neighbors, Aaron and Vivian. The star performers were John Vickers as Samson and Rita Gorr as Delilah. (They perform those roles in the EMI recording with George Pretre conducting from 1963). Both Vickers and Gorr were quite stout (Gorr would be an excellent "fat lady sings"). At the beginning the second act, the stage was quite dark and both Samson and Delilah were standing near the rear of the quite deep stage. As the music began, Aaron leans toward my parents and whispers quite loudly - "which one is Samson?"

            Larry



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            • bonzo75
              bonzo75 commented
              Editing a comment
              I heard the Concerto #2 at the Sheldonian - it was my first concert there - it was so goo I haven't stopped going even though it takes me 90 minutes one way
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