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Goodbyes to a Bygone World

Donald Macleod focuses on Saint-Saens's works composed to rouse the spirits of the French people during the First World War, as well as a trio of valedictory pieces.

Saint-Saëns's war service "at the keyboard" ? and a trio of valedictory works for trombone, harp and bassoon.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

As France experienced the trauma of the First World War, the elderly Saint-Saëns made sure to do his bit ? by composing a series of works to rouse the spirits of the French people. Spirited away from war-torn Paris, and in the company of the Belgian royal family! he set to work on a new work for harp and orchestra: a novel combination even for a composer in his ninth decade. His wanderlust never satiated, Saint-Saëns spent his final years on visits to the USA, where he was appalled by animals in captivity at the zoo in New York, and to Switzerland, where even at the age of 85 he insisted on swimming in the lakes.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 29 Nov 2013 19:00

Music Played

  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    The Swan: Carnival Of The Animals

    Performer: Leonid Hambro. Performer: Jascha Zayde. Orchestra: André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra. Conductor: André Kostelanetz.
    • PHILIPS: NBR6001.
    • 2.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Cavatine in D Flat, op.144

    Performer: Christian Lindberg. Performer: Roland Pöntinen.
    • BIS: CD298.
    • 3.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    String Quartet no.2 in G Major, Op.153

    Ensemble: Medici Quartet. Composer: *saen.
    • KOCH: 364842.
    • 7.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Morceau De Concert for Harp and Orchestra, Op.154

    Performer: Marielle Nordmann. Orchestra: Ensemble Orchestral de Paris. Conductor: Jean‐Jacques Kantorow.
    • EMI: CDC5555872.
    • 3.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Bassoon Sonata, Op.168

    Performer: Rachel Gough. Performer: Julius Drake.
    • CALA CACD1017.
    • 7-9.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Grand Finale: Carnival Of The Animals

    Performer: Jascha Zayde. Performer: Leonid Hambro. Conductor: André Kostelanetz. Orchestra: André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra.
    • PHILIPS: NBR6001.
    • 2.

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