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Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No. 3 "Organ" / Dukas: L'Apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer's Apprentice)

Paul Dukas , Camille Saint-Saens , James Levine , Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra , Simon Preston Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 5 Songs, 1987 $9.49  
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Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No.3 In C Minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony" - 1. Adagio - Allegro moderato - Poco adagioSimon Preston10:25Album Only
listen  2. Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No.3 In C Minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony" - 1b. Poco adagioSimon Preston10:11Album Only
listen  3. Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No.3 In C Minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony" - 2. Allegro moderato - Presto - Allegro moderato - Maestoso - Piý allegro - Molto allegroSimon Preston 7:29Album Only
listen  4. Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No.3 In C Minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony" - 2b. Maestoso - Piý allegro - Molto allegroSimon Preston 8:00Album Only
listen  5. Dukas: L'Apprenti sorcierBerliner Philharmoniker10:44Album Only

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Frequently Bought Together

Saint-SaŽns: Symphony No. 3 "Organ" / Dukas: L'Apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) + Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals / Danse Macabre + The Planets
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Product Details

  • Performer: Simon Preston
  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: James Levine
  • Composer: Paul Dukas, Camille Saint-Saens
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Run Time: 47 minutes
  • ASIN: B000001G85
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,484 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

James Levine's is currently the hottest version of the Sorcerer, rivalling the old Toscanini account in impetuosity, but far better recorded. The choice of companion piece is a good one, though the length (47:05) is unpleasantly short for a full-price disc. --Ted Libbey

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A towering performance of a magnificent symphony. May 16, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Probably 90% of Saint-Saens' discography is formed by recordings of a few masterpieces: this one, and some concertos ( Piano n.2, Cello n.1, Violin n.3). Not a bad achievement for a composer sometimes accused by the snobbier critics of being academic, but a pity nonetheless, because his large output deserves a deeper knowledge. Try, for example, the 5 piano Concertos on Emi (Collard/RPO/Previn) or the little-known other four symphonies (there are a mid-price 2-disc set from Martinon/Emi and a splendid, hard-to-find Erato disc that couples n.1&2 conducted by Pretre). Maybe Saint-Saens wasn't the most profound of the composers but, at his best, he had a prodigiously fluent, charming inventiveness and superbly accomplished technique. Levine's task was very challenging, but in my opinion he scores over all his competitors, even the most revered (Karajan, Ormandy, Maazel). There's a sense of thrill and theatrical grandeur about this performance that I find irresistible, and this is achieved without brashness or vulgarity. Actually there are several finely nuanced moments: the slow movement (strings with haunting organ chords in the background) is wonderful and the part for pianoforte concertante has never been so clearly and delicately presented. I think that the decision to record the organ together with the orchestra -very often they are taped separately-, greatly contributed to the sense of occasion and Simon Preston's is a superb contribution: his entry in the finale, for example, is not merely loud, but genuinely majestic. The Berliners play marvelously for Levine: every orchestral section (and S.-S. uses them all without inhibitions!) displays that blend of aristocratic virtuosity and white-hot intensity that is almost unmatched by any other orchestra. Read more ›
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic April 4, 2004
Format:Audio CD
This is the CD to buy if you are looking for the definitive recorded version of both Saint-SaŽns' great "Organ" Symphony and Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice. James Levine brings vision and energy to these famous orchestral staples. Levine and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play with vigor, power, and gusto in this polished, yet spontaneous sounding recording from DG. I will agree with some of the other reviewers in saying that the performance does not sound particularly "French." Indeed, the orchestral forces are not as smooth as in Dutiot's recoding or as idiomatic as with Munch. As with most modern Berlin recordings, the strings still retain the famous (or infamous) Karajan sound, the brass is tubby, but powerful, and the winds, while recessed, are present and appropriately piquant when necessary. Climaxes are terribly exciting while the sublime second movement is quite well done. Simon Preston's accompaniment, recorded, as often is done these days, during a different session, is present without being overpowering. All in all, this recording of the "Organ" Symphony is top-notch.

Dukas' musical career rests on a handful of works, the most famous being the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Made famous by Disney's Fantasia, this work is truly a masterpiece of the French romantic tradition. Its influence on future composers also makes this a historically important work. Stravinsky, who was a pupil of Dukas, was certainly inspired by this piece in some of his earlier works. While Levine and the Berlin players were quite fine in the symphony, they really deliver the goods here. The opening is appropriately atmospheric, the "broom" theme chuckles nicely, and the large tutti flood and subsequent broom hacking episode are big and boomy but still retain a great deal of transparency.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificently performed, better than Karajan March 27, 2003
Format:Audio CD
Currenlty, I own two different recordings of Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony. Both is under the same company (Grammophon), and played by the same orchestra (Berlin Phil).
This recording, with the orcehstra under the baton of Maestro James Levine, and the organ soloist being Simon Preston, is magnificently played. I rate it a superb performance. The balance between the organ and the orchetra is great. No brass overblowing, and no strings making a drudging heavy play. The timpi, especially each different detail of the mighty second-half of the concluding movement (the music you might have heard in the movie "Babe") is just the way I favor; crisp, smooth, and a perfect timing on ending the piece.
The other recording I own is with Pierre Cochereau on organ, and the conductor being the famous Herbert von Karajan. Yes, that performance is great, but it's a bit too "heavy". Karajan was a man who tends to add weight on the orchestra's sound pretty often, but I didn't think the Organ Symphony had to be so compressed. At some time, the organ is a bit overpowering the orcehstra. I didn't quite like the tempi either.
Both recordings is great, but I rather recommend this CD under Levine.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome in its beauty November 30, 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Before purchasing this disc, I scoured Amazon and other sites to find the definitive recording of this work. A consensus that I found was that the Boston Symphony recording with Charles Munch was the benchmark, and I checked out a copy of that recording, as well as one by Jean Martinon, from the library. Giving them a listen, I found that I definitely preferred the Munch, but I couldn't get past the dated audio quality. I wanted pristine sound as well as performance.

Hence began a search of as many online samples I could find to make a determination, using of course the "Maestoso" as the point of comparison. The Berenboim recording sounded fine to me, but at a $30+ price point, I decided against it. Then I tried the Karajan, which sounded totally wrong to my ears. Lastly, I tried this Levine recording, and I found it to be sublime. The strings over the arpeggiated piano was magical, and then the organ comes in and sends you soaring. The sound was crystalline. I knew this was the recording for me.

The entire symphony sounds gorgeous, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice is a great bonus (much better than the unfortunately hiss-filled track on my Fantasia album). I can see where this could be considered to have a heavy "Germanic" sound that may not be exactly proper for a French Romantic composition, but with a recording this lush, I don't care. In fact, I think I prefer it.

I can't speak for purists, being ignorant in such matters, but as a casual listener, I can't give this disc a higher recommendation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ups and downs, but net stunning
This disc combines two of the most popular works from two French composers, Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony and Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice, and each receive stunning performances by... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joseph Kline PhD, MD
2.0 out of 5 stars good organ but lousy conducting
Levine "conducts" here as he did in his Met days - fast and loud but no understanding or feeling. A very superficial reading at best. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Col William Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint-Saens - Organ Symphony #3
A classic symphony performed by the surperb Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. For some reason, this piece can vary in quality to a great degree, but James Levine, conductor, does a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Music Mavin
4.0 out of 5 stars How much do you like this piece?
Personally, I find the Saint Saens Organ Concerto a bit "over the top". I'm more a Haydn-Mozart-Mendelssohn kind of person. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Pat C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice program...
Great recording of an unusual yet enjoyable symphony and a great shorter piece...this CD should fit nicely into your listening rotation... Read more
Published 12 months ago by DaddyD
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint-Saens: Symphony No. 3 "Organ"
I was listening to the classical radio station when I heard the Organ Symphony, so I enquired online at Amazon for it's recording. It was available and now I can enjoy it anytime. Read more
Published 12 months ago by R. C. Hitchcock
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Performance, Okay Recording
Having owned multiple recordings the the Organ Symphony, I, being a big fan of James Levine, thought his version of the work would be revelatory. It isn't. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Norman H. Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this piece
It is so powerful. The only problem is that it had tremendous dynamic range and rises to incredible crescendos in places, which is a problem since I live in a condo!
Published 13 months ago by Gwyn Edwards
2.0 out of 5 stars Thundrous Organ!!
This is one of my favorite symphonies. I actually use it to walk on the treadmill and work out on the bike! It is lovely = very full organ!!
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets!
The Saint-Saens is SICK(in the good sense)! Don't ask, just buy! The Poco Adagio will tug at your heart like the Philly Strings under Ormandy and if the Finale does not fire you... Read more
Published on May 1, 2012 by ClassicalRocks!!
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