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Saint-Saens: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Suite, Op. 16 / Allegro Appassionato / The Swan

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 8, 1997
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  • Saint-Saens: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Suite, Op. 16   / Allegro Appassionato / The Swan
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  • Saint-Saëns: String Quartets
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Maria Kliegel, violoncelle - Bournemouth Sinfonietta - Jean-Francois Monnard, direction

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Here's a logical and, believe it or not, rare coupling. Saint-Saëns wrote two excellent cello concertos, and you would think that they would be featured together on more recordings. Instead, we usually get the far less musically rewarding "Lalo" Concerto, and listeners are robbed of the chance to make the acquaintance of the Concerto No. 2, which deserves to be much better known. Maria Kliegel is a very fine cellist--as good as anyone out there on any given day--and she has made a lovely series of recordings for Naxos. This is one of the best, a totally enjoyable romp through Saint-Saëns's typically French combination of formal sophistication and polish. --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Performer: Maria Kliegel
  • Orchestra: Bournemouth Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: Jean-Francois Monnard
  • Composer: Camille Saint-Saens
  • Audio CD (April 8, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000014CT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,573 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
These works are not as well-known as some others by arguably the best French composer ever. However, there is some very nice music here. In my book, most of Saint-Saens' music is pleasing to the ears. It may not always be deeply inspired music-making, but is nonetheless enjoyable. I would rank his Cello Concerto No.1 in the Top Ten of his works, not too far behind his more famous Third Symphony, Second Piano Concerto, or Third Violin Concerto. Maria Kliegel proves once again to be a very good soloist, sympathetic and technically flawless. I say 'once again' because she also performs beautifully on Schumann's Cello Concerto, nicely coupled on Naxos with the Brahms Double Concerto. She recieves fine support from the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, conducted by Jean-Francois Monnard, although the strings sound a little thin on this recording. The Second Concerto, although not as well-known as the First, also comes across well. Added to the mix is a delightful version of the early Suite, Opus 16. Saint-Saens orchestrated this himself, whereas the original version was with piano accompaniment. The same is true of the Allegro appassionato in B minor, Op.43 (not to be confused with his Op.70 for solo piano & orchestral accompaniment). Lastly, the quintessential romantic cello piece "The Swan", originally with double piano, the 13th movement of his famous Carnaval of the Animals. Recorded here is a version by the conductor and composer Paul Vidal, who was a pupil of Massenet, and a friend of Debussy and Chabrier. The double piano is replaced by the harp, joined by strings. Altogether this is a recommendable CD of cello music from Camille Saint-Saens on the award-winning Naxos label. At this price, it is all the more delightful.
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Format: Audio CD
Saint-Saens first cello concerto is of course a repertoire warhorse; his second concerto not so much, and although it is less immediately appealing and melodically memorable, it is still a charming, rich work (in an original two-movement structure). Kliegel's performance of the first concerto is fine and more than serviceable; it would not disappoint anyone and causes no concern over those listeners (probably many of them) who encountered it for the first time in this performance. Yet it is hardly first choice (it sounds a little too much caught up in the details of the moment rather than overall structure at times) and the real value of this release lies with the second concerto, which is performed with spirit and brilliance, as well as the other rarities.

The cello and orchestra version of the op. 16 suite is very fine, orchestrated with color and sophistication. The work itself also contains some nice touches, such as the interesting harmonic processions of the soulful romance. And I have no qualms about the performances here at all. Neither do I have any objections to the performance of the enjoyable but slighter allegro appassionato op. 43.

The Bournemouth orchestra under Monnard provides rich, detailed and brilliant support overall, and the sound quality is well-balanced and clear, but lacks warmth. Overall then, this is a thoroughly recommendable issue, especially at the price.
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Format: Audio CD
Although I agree with the reviewer who commended this recording for its interesting programme, which includes the Second Cello Concerto, I do respectfully disagree: it is a bit disappointing, at least in the more famous First Cello Concerto, where the orchestral sound is not lush enough for this composer and there is less contrast between it and the soloist than the piece demands. The concerto comes across as rather uninteresting. The recording by Yo-Yo Ma and Andre Previn has more fire and is is far more profound and no more expensive than this one. The couplings are two other wonderful performances, of the Second Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto. There is also a very fine performance of the First Cello Concerto by Rostropovich.
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