Saint-saens: Music For The Prix De Rome
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...