Saint Saens Organ Symphony

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Painting by Alex Katsenelson

Last year was a year of Camille Saint Saens and Franz Schubert for me. I have a much greater appreciation of their music today than I did a year ago.  I’ve written a lot about Schubert (read it here).  Today I want to zoom in on Saint Saens.  After I wrote about his piano concertos (read it here), a reader suggested I listen to Saint Saens’ Symphony No. 3, also known as the Organ Symphony.  Thank you!  I cannot stop listening to it.

This is not so much a symphony for organ as a symphony for two orchestras – a traditional orchestra and organ.  The organ has so much gravitas and its sound is so rich and powerful that it can be construed as an orchestra.  The organ in this symphony adds an unexpected (at least for me) depth to the sound and amplifies emotions created by the main orchestra.   Saint Saens wrote about this symphony, “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.”  He dedicated it to his friend Franz Liszt.

Orchestre de Paris, Paavo Järvi, conductor

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