SAINT-SAENS: Elan – Ballet Music from Operas

Orchestra Victoria and Tourniaire make a persuasive case for ending the neglect of Saint-Saëns's lesser-known operatic gems.

This exceedingly rare anthology presents ballet music from four seldom-performed operas by the French late-Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. This disc may be the only way most people will ever experience these delightful works.

We know the operatic Saint-Saëns for the most part only through Samson and Delilah and its famous aria Softly Awakes My Heart. His other operas have languished, but here we have excerpts from his Henry VIII, Ascanio, Étienne Marcel and Les Barbares – all mostly consigned to the music history books.

 Orchestra Victoria under Guillaume Tourniaire makes a persuasive case for ending this neglect. If the rest of the operas are as graceful and beautiful as the ballet music suggests, then their resurrection is well overdue. The music is elegant, and surprisingly modern touches are couched in musical language wittily evoking a more Classical era.   

Tourniaire weaves an orchestral tapestry of the most delicate beauty and fluidity. The orchestral sound is never excessive – this refined music is always on its best behaviour. Orchestra Victoria’s playing has a silky sheen and is layered as if translucent. Their level of professionalism makes it extraordinary that our federal and state governments and even The Australia Council are not willing to give this body  of musicians the support it needs to continue its role in our cultural life.

This Melba SACD hybrid disc is compatible with all playing equipment. On my SACD player, the orchestra is in my living room, with just enough room left for the listener.

Copyright © Limelight Magazine. All rights reserved

This article appeared in the December, 2011 issue of Limelight Magazine.

What are your thoughts on this article? Have your say and leave your comments below.
NOTE: You must be a registered member of Limelight to post a comment.
Click here to login | Click here to register
Please read our guidelines on commenting. Offending posts will be removed and your access may be suspended. Abusive or obscene language will not be tolerated. The comments below do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Limelight or its employees.
SAINT-SAENS: Elan – Ballet Music from Operas
4 out of 5
Current Issue
May 2014 issue on sale now!
What's On
Close Get the May 2014 issue of Limelight mailed to you for $8.50, including postage.

Buy now
Digital Version