Format: COMPACT DISC
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of the important French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, the Basel Symphony Orchestra under its conductor Ivor Bolton had set itself the goal of giving its audience an insight into the composer's well-known and lesser-known symphonic works. In addition to the symphonies and various concertos, the orchestra has explicitly focused on the symphonic poems of the composer of the "Carnival of the Animals". For the first time, these works as well as the well-known "Bacchanale" from the opera "Samson et Dalila" have been recorded according to Hugh Macdonalds' new critical edition published by Bärenreiter. Camille Saint-Saëns - who also performed several times at the Stadtcasino Basel - was very old when he died in 1921 at the age of 86. He had an eventful life behind him. He lost his father when he was still a baby. He entered the world of music as a child prodigy. Later, as an adult, his two young sons die. After the death of his mother shortly afterwards, he dissolves his flat in Paris, gives away and sells his furniture and goes into hiding. He spends fifteen years in a travel fever in ship cabins and train compartments. He travels from North Africa to China, from Russia to America - and composes. With the four works he composed between 1872 and 1877, "Le Rouet d'Omphale", "Phaéton", "Danse macabre" and "La Jeunesse d'Hercule", Camille Saint-Saëns placed himself firmly in the tradition of Hector Berlioz, who had ushered in a new era in France with his "Symphonie fantastique", premiered in 1830, as well as the symphonic poems of Franz Liszt, who had established the genre in Germany. During Saint-Saëns' lifetime, his four "Poèmes symphoniques" became repertoire works that were heard around the world, but only the "Danse macabre" has remained in the concert programme to this day. This work with its pictorial depiction of a witches' sabbath - though clearly ironically broken - was a true scandalous piece at the time of its creation, not so far removed from Stravinsky's Sacre in this respect. His own mother fainted with indignation at the premiere and the hall audience went wild. In Germany, Carl Reinecke refused to perform the work because he considered the pictorial representation of skeletons by means of a xylophone immoral. Compared to the "Danse macabre", "Phaéton" is certainly more moderate. It describes Phaéton's high-spirited ride on Helios' sun chariot, which of course - danger of crashing! - does not end well. A rousing and concise orchestral piece. The critical first editions, which have just been published by Bärenreiter within the "Œuvres complètes instrumentales", offer the opportunity for new interpretations of these works on a reliable source basis. About the orchestra: the Süddeutsche Zeitung describes it perfectly: "You only have to experience the Basel Symphony Orchestra with its principal conductor Ivor Bolton once to know what this fabulous orchestra is capable of." Whether in its own concert series, at the Stadtcasino Basel or in guest performances at home and abroad, the innovative ensemble repeatedly confirms its high level of sound culture. The Briton Ivor Bolton has been the orchestra's principal conductor since the 2016/2017 season. Conductors with whom the Basel Symphony Orchestra has been closely associated include personalities such as Johannes Brahms, Felix Weingartner, Gustav Mahler, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Gary Bertini, Walter Weller, Armin Jordan, Horst Stein, Otto Klemperer, Nello Santi, Pierre Boulez, Mario Venzago and Dennis Russell Davies.