Saint-saens: Music For The Prix De Rome

Album cover art for upc 8424562022102
Catalog: GCD922210
Format: CD

Soloists & Flemish Radio Choir, Brussels Philharmonic, Hervé Niquet (direction)

Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921): Ivanhoé (1864) / Le Retour de Virginie (1852) / Ode (1864) / Choeur de Sylphes (1852) / Messe opus 4 (1857, extraits) / Motets au Saint Sacrement

Camille Saint-Saëns and the Prix de Rome... surely a strange bringing together of ideas, given that the composer never gained that coveted award and consequently never took up residence in the famous Villa Medici? All the same, Saint-Saëns entered the competition on two separate occasions and, peculiarly in the history of the competition, twelve years apart: firstly in 1852 and then in 1864. On the first occasion he was still an adolescent, devoted to worshipping the memory of the great Mendelssohn; behind him, by the time of the second occasion, were already a number of his masterpieces later to be confirmed by posterity - and he had become acquainted with Verdi and had also discovered Wagner. If the music he composed for the competition in 1864 was not deemed worthy of being awarded a prize, perhaps that was due to it being full of a troubling and disquieting sense of modernity: there is clearly nothing that the cantata Ivanhoé needs to fear in a comparison with Il Trovatore...
In the period between the two competitions Saint-Saëns concurrently secured for himself a reputation in church music based on a plentiful collection of magnificent motets; proof that it is
possible to be successful in religious academicism and unsuccessful in its lyric counterpart.
Hervé Niquet, the Brussels Philharmonic and Glossa are now presenting the second volume in their survey of music composed for the Prix de Rome with the majority of such pieces being previously unrecorded and definitely demanding to become much better-known.

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