Camille Saint-SaŽns
Caprice on Danish & Russian Airs

Saint-SaŽns studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Havely and was a private pupil of Gounod. He was organist of the Madeleine for about twenty years, and teacher at the Ecole Niedermeyer where Fauré was one of his pupils. His best known works are Le carnaval des animaux, the symphonic poems (influenced by Liszt), the first of which (Omphale's Spinning Wheel) was the first such work ever to be written by a French composer, and the great third symphony which includes organ and four-hand piano. Saint-SaŽns was a virtuoso pianist and was often praised for the clarity and precision of his playing, especially when performing Mozart. These qualities are demonstrated in the Caprice with its regular and well-articulated phrasing. The Caprice also uses thematic transformations, akin to the symphonic poems, with the main themes from the Russian Airs returning in full or in part in a variety of different orchestrations and tempi, sometimes slightly altered but retaining their basic shape, and at other times developed into something quite different. DPS

© 2000 The Arethusa Ensemble