Salt Lake City, Utah (November 18, 2019) — The third and final volume of Utah Symphony’s Saint-Saëns recording series is released digitally and on disc by Hyperion Records on Friday, November 29.
Conducted by Music Director Thierry Fischer, this collection includes the first commercial recordings of the complete Saint-Saëns symphonies by an American orchestra, and each volume also looks beyond the composer’s symphonic output to include additional orchestral highlights in his oeuvre.
The new album features Symphony No. 1 in E-flat major; Symphony in A major, written when the child-prodigy composer was only 15 years old; and The Carnival of the Animals. Pre-orders for Volume 3 are currently available from hyperion-records.co.uk.
Mr. Fischer and the Utah Symphony recorded all three volumes of the Saint-Saëns cycle live in concert at Salt Lake City’s Abravanel Hall during the 2017–18 season. Reflecting on the project, Mr. Fischer said:
“It has been deeply fulfilling to trace with the orchestra the symphonic development of such a pivotal French Romantic as Saint-Saëns—from the seldom-heard symphonies on this album, both written when he was a teenager, to a beloved masterpiece like the “Organ” Symphony. Indeed, one of our goals has been to paint a picture of Saint-Saëns as more than just the composer of a few favorites. Our journey through his lesser-known works has been especially satisfying since they are not mere historical curiosities, but have a charm all their own, thanks to the composer’s rare genius from a very young age. There is always something to admire in the music of Saint-Saëns, and we hope listeners come away with a richer appreciation for his art!”
Saint-Saëns composed his first symphonic work, the Symphony in A major, around 1850. In the recording liner notes, Roger Nichols writes that this piece is “astonishing for a fifteen-year-old in its technical savoir faire” and stylistically follows in the footsteps of Beethoven and Mendelssohn, among others. Three years after composing the A-major symphony, Saint-Saëns composed another in E-flat major, designating it his Symphony No. 1. He wrote this symphony for much larger orchestral forces, and it reflects the influence of his friend and mentor Gounod. The most famous work on the album is The Carnival of the Animals, written in 1886. The penultimate movement, “The Swan,” was published in Saint-Saëns’s lifetime, but the complete suite only appeared posthumously in 1922.
The three volumes of this cycle mark Mr. Fischer’s fourth, fifth, and sixth recordings with the Utah Symphony. Volume 1 comprises Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”) in C minor, featuring organist Paul Jacobs; “Danse Bacchanale” from Act III of the composer’s opera Samson et Dalila; and Trois tableaux symphoniques d’après La foi. On Volume 2, Symphony No. 2 and the “Urbs Roma” Symphony are featured alongside Danse macabre, which includes a solo part performed by Utah Symphony concertmaster Madeline Adkins.
Throughout his career, Mr. Fischer has been especially active as a conductor of the French repertoire—from classics by Debussy and Ravel to contemporary works by Pierre Boulez and Tristan Murail. Of his 14 albums on Hyperion prior to these Saint-Saëns recordings, over half are devoted to works by Francophone composers, including Fauré, Françaix, Honegger, d’Indy, Lalo, Martin, Poulenc, and Widor. The Saint-Saëns cycle marks his first recordings of the French repertoire with the Utah Symphony, and in February 2020, an all-Berlioz album with the orchestra is also planned for release on Hyperion. In concert this season, he leads the orchestra in a season-long exploration of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles, a twelve-movement work inspired by the birds and rugged features of southern Utah.
About the Utah Symphony
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns access to world-class live performances of the world’s greatest music in the state’s top venues. Since being named the orchestra’s seventh Music Director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5® Tour of Utah’s national parks and last season’s Great American Road Trip, which also included Utah state parks and national monuments, the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours—from Europe to Central and South America—and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary celebrations.
The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings, and recent releases (on Reference Recordings) include Mahler’s Symphonies No. 1 and 8 (2015 and 2017, respectively) and Dawn to Dust (2016), which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. The orchestra’s discography with former Music Director Maurice Abravanel includes not only the first Mahler symphony cycle by an American orchestra, but also premiere recordings of works by Honegger, Milhaud, Rorem, Satie, Schuman, and Varèse.
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra’s parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, with educational outreach programs serving more than 155,000 students annually. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony participates in Utah Opera’s four annual productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and present the six-week Deer Valley® Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah.
For more information about the orchestra, visit utahsymphony.org..
Season Sponsor for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.
About Thierry Fischer
Now in his 11th season as Music Director of the Utah Symphony, Thierry Fischer has revitalized the orchestra with creative programming, critically acclaimed performances, and new recordings. He has conducted numerous composer cycles at Abravanel Hall, and in addition to focusing on Saint-Saëns, he has led the orchestra in cycles of symphonies and concertos by composers from Germany, Austria, Denmark, and America. These performances include a two-season Mahler symphony cycle in celebration of the Utah Symphony’s 75th anniversary and its legacy as the first American orchestra to record the complete Mahler symphonies.
Appointed Principal Guest of the Seoul Philharmonic in January 2017, Mr. Fischer has also guest-conducted the Atlanta, BBC, Boston, Cincinnati, and Detroit symphony orchestras, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, London Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Oslo and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, among others. With the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he conducted the 2015 “Pierre Boulez at 90” concert at London’s Barbican Hall.
Mr. Fischer made his conducting debut in his 30s leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he led in 2016 on a European tour. He has served as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra (2001–06), Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra (2008–11), and Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2006–12), which he led annually at the BBC Proms, frequently in performances of the French repertoire.
For more information about Mr. Fischer, visit thierryfischer.com.
Saint-Saëns: Complete Symphonies and Additional Works, Vol. 3
Hyperion Records CDA68223
Thierry Fischer, conductor
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
Symphony No 1 in E flat major Op 2 [33’10]
1. Adagio – Allegro [8’35]
2. Marche-Scherzo: Allegretto scherzando [4’48]
3. Adagio [12’40]
4. Finale: Allegro maestoso [7’07]
Le carnaval des animaux [23’03]
5. Introduction et marche royale du lion [2’04]
6. Poules et coqs [0’47]
7. Hémiones (animaux véloces) [0’41]
8. Tortues [2’33]
9. L’éléphant [1’25]
10. Kangourous [0’55]
11. Aquarium [2’26]
12. Personnages à longues oreilles [0’53]
13. Le coucou au fond des bois [2’28]
14. Volière [1’15]
15. Pianistes [1’00]
16. Fossiles [1’16]
17. Le cygnet [3’31]
18. Final [1’49]
Symphony in A major [25’40]
19. Poco adagio – Allegro vivace [7’32]
20. Larghetto [10’14]
21. Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio [2’45]
22. Finale: Allegro molto – Presto [5’09]
Total duration: 81 minutes 53 seconds
Recorded live in Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah, on 8 & 9 December 2017 (Le carneval des animaux), 23 & 24 February 2018 (Symphony No. 1), and 2 & 3 March 2018 (Symphony in A major).