For the past 13 years, Swiss-born maestro Thierry Fischer has been a man on a mission. As Music Director of the Utah Symphony, a post he announced this week that he will relinquish in August 2022, he has revitalised Maurice Abravanel’s Salt Lake City-based orchestra, lifted its international profile, and embarked on a number of ambitious recording projects. It took him a little while to develop what he refers to as a “flexible sound” – one that saw the orchestra successfully deliver recordings of big works like Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and a soon-to-be-released Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky –but come last season he felt they were ready for a project especially dear to his heart. “I thought, the orchestra is ready to go for French music, but not necessarily Boléroor La Mer,” he explains over the phone from Europe. “These pieces everybody hears all the time.”

Thierry Fischer conducts Utah Symphony. Photo © Kathleen Sykes/Utah Symphony

Fischer’s idea was to tackle a relative rarity and record a symphony cycle by the prolific but still oddly underrated Camille Saint-Saëns. “I have a weak spot for Saint-Saëns,” he admits. “I think he developed French Romanticism...

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