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1
Le Carnaval des Animaux: Aquarium
Camille Saint-Saëns, Irena Grafenauer, Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Gidon Kremer, Isabelle van Keulen, Tabea Zimmermann, Mischa Maisky, Georg Maximilian Hörtnagel, Edith Salmen-Weber
02:35
2
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 29: I. Moderato assai
Camille Saint-Saëns, Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow
13:19
3
L'horizon chimérique, Op. 118: 4. Vaisseaux, nous vous aurons aimés
Gabriel Fauré, Charles Panzera, Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot
01:43
4
Suite algerienne, Op. 60: II. Rhapsodie mauresque
Camille Saint-Saëns, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Frances Travis
06:02
5
Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103 "Egyptian": III. Molto allegro
Camille Saint-Saëns, Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow
06:11
6
Les pêcheurs de perles / Act 2: Au fond du temple saint
Georges Bizet, Ramón Vargas, Ludovic Tezier, SWR Symphony Orchestra, Marco Armiliato
06:18
7
Scherzo sur "Les pêcheurs de perles" (After Bizet's WD 13)
Camille Saint-Saëns, Geoffrey Burleson
09:14
8
Ascanio: Ascanio, Acte II Scène 1, Tableau 4: "Adieu, beauté, ma mie, ma vie !" - Genève Live
Camille Saint-Saëns, Jean Teitgen, Karina Gauvin, Guillaume Tourniaire, Orchestre de la Haute école de musique de Genève
05:26
9
Sonate pour violon et piano No. 1 en Ré Mineur, Op. 75: Allegro agitato
Camille Saint-Saëns, Maria Milstein, Nathalia Milstein
06:41
10
Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21: III. Grave
Ernest Chausson, Christian Ferras
09:43
11
Violin Sonata in A Major, FWV 8: II. Allegro
César Franck, Tedi Papavrami, Nelson Goerner
07:26
12
Les cloches de la mer
Camille Saint-Saëns, Tassis Christoyannis, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Markus Poschner
03:16
13
Oratorio de Noël, Op. 12: No. 5, Benedictus qui venit
Camille Saint-Saëns, Sandrine Piau, Laurence Equilbey, Aurélie Saraf, Daniel Maurer, Johann Weisser
03:00
14
Le Carnaval des Animaux, R. 125: 12. Fossiles
Camille Saint-Saëns, Pascal Rogé, Cristina Ortiz, London Sinfonietta, Charles Dutoit
01:19
15
Danse macabre in G Minor, Op. 40
Camille Saint-Saëns, Tassis Christoyannis, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Markus Poschner
02:17
16
Saint-Saens - Danse macabre, S555/R240 (arr. V. Horowitz for piano): Danse macabre
Vladimir Horowitz, Franz Liszt, Valery Kuleshov
09:17
17
Une nuit a Lisbonne, Op. 63
Camille Saint-Saëns, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
03:43
18
Concerto pour violoncelle No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33: II. Allegretto con moto
Camille Saint-Saëns, Gaspar Cassadó, Orchester Pro Musica Wien, Rudolf Moralt
04:46
19
Violons dans le soir
Camille Saint-Saëns, Karine Deshayes, Ensemble Contraste
06:01
20
Concerto pour piano No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: I. Andante sostenuto
Camille Saint-Saëns, Emil Gilels, André Cluytens, Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire
11:03
21
Samson et Dalila / Act 3: "Vois ma misère, hélas!"
Camille Saint-Saëns, Plácido Domingo, Orchestre de Paris, Daniel Barenboim, Choeur de l'Orchestre de Paris, Arthur Oldham
08:48
22
Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Bacchanale
Camille Saint-Saëns, Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy
07:12
23
Aimons-nous in D-Flat Major
Camille Saint-Saëns, Yann Beuron, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Markus Poschner
03:34
24
Samson et Dalila: Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix
Camille Saint-Saëns, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Orchestre National De France, Fabien Gabel
06:28
25
Valse canariote, Op. 88
Camille Saint-Saëns, Juan Carlos Fernández-Nieto
07:15
26
Requiem, Op. 54: VII. Benedictus
Camille Saint-Saëns, Tinuke Olafimihan, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Anthony Roden, Simon Kirkbride, James O'Donnell, Geoffrey Simon, London Philharmonic Orchestra
01:46
27
Requiem, Op. 48: In Paradisum
Gabriel Fauré, Collegium Vocale Gent, La Chapelle Royale, Philippe Herreweghe
03:42
28
Fantaisie pour Orgue Op.157
Camille Saint-Saëns, Stephen Darlington
10:55
29
Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 "Organ Symphony": II. Allegro moderato - Presto - Maestoso - Allegro
Camille Saint-Saëns, Jean Martinon, Orchestre National ORTF
15:49
30
Les barbares, R. 295: Prologue
Camille Saint-Saëns, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Jun Markl
14:27

Saint-Saëns and the Belle Époque

The Swan, The Carnival of the Animals, the Organ Symphony, Samson and Delilah, all peaks in the oeuvre of Camille Saint-Saëns, a popular composer whose death 100 years ago is being commemorated by the Paris Opera. But behind the fame there was a secret, revealed by the author of the celebrated book, Vertige de l’hélice.

Many of us know Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) thanks to his greatest hits, “The Swan”, La Symphonie Pour Orgue and La Danse Macabre. The latter of which is very gripping and exists in many forms: orchestral, vocal, or on the piano in a frenzied transcription, here by Vladimir Horowitz. You need at least four arms and twenty fingers to get through it. Either that or Saint-Saëns’ talent, a child prodigy who gave his first recital at the age of eleven and didn’t stop playing until his death at the Hôtel de l’Oasis in Algiers.

His threefold personality as the most famous organist of the French Second Empire, friend and teacher to a whole generation (Bizet, Fauré, Liszt) and colonial propagandist for the French Third Republic, hides a fourth, more secret one. Under the pseudonym Charles Sanois (and with a false passport) he lived in the Canary Islands, Algeria, Egypt, the Americas and South East Asia, fleeing the cumbersome weight of fame, as well as living out his homosexuality far from prying eyes. Having suffered through the ordeals of a failed marriage, at the age of 55 he gave himself a new lease of life. His endless moving reminds us of modern day stars, hounded by the paparazzi. Perhaps it is no surprise, therefore, that “Aquarium”, the first song on this playlist, is the theme song of the Cannes Film Festival.

I enjoyed constructing an imaginary journey in the company of this contemporary of Jules Verne, who twice circumnavigated the globe with his piano. In the same way as Marcel Proust did with his imagined Vinteuil Sonata (which was inspired by Saint-Saëns) I have superimposed onto this list the languor of the Belle Époque’s hot greenhouses, the sensuality of various temptresses, the exoticism of the colonial empire and these cathedrals of sound, alongside a few juicy moments worthy of a Hollywood epic. Saint-Saëns? A real carnival, truly...

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