WORKS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony); Danse macabre, Op. 40; Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila) ; Trois Rapsodies sur des cantiques bretons, Op. 7
PERFORMER: Hans Fagius (organ) ; Royal Stockholm PO/James DePreist
CATALOGUE NO: CD 555 DDD
James DePreist has won golden opinions for his Shostakovich, as has BIS for its artistic enterprise and high standards of engineering quality. Not to beat about the bush, this account of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony is one of the finest on the market. It is very well played by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and DePreist is completely straight and unmannered, and always at the service of the composer. The recorded sound is splendidly natural, well balanced and full-blooded.
In his study of French music, Martin Cooper spoke of ‘the high seriousness, the vibrating emotion and the faintly self-conscious showmanship’ of the piece, but I must say that DePreist proves a far more persuasive advocate than many of his more celebrated rivals. His organist, Hans Fagius, is recorded in situ, unlike some rivals who are tacked on artificially. He is also to be heard on a magnificent 1976 Marcussen instrument of St Jakobs Kyrka in Stockholm in a Saint-Saëns rarity, the Three Rhapsodies on Breton Songs, which he plays with real artistry. This disc deserves the highest rating both artistically and for its sound. Robert Layton