Post by queenofthehours on Oct 23, 2016 13:16:22 GMT
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (born Paris 1835 – died Algiers 1921)
Yes, this week I have chosen for you a single artist and that artist happens to be a classical composer. A risky choice perhaps but as ELO connoisseurs I believe we are more classically-minded than most pop listeners. We already love what Jeff and Roy have been doing with classical ideas and instruments so I think Saint-Saens's music would fit right in with the world of ELO.
For a start Saint-Saens has a marvellous beard, which we know to be the key to writing top tunes. Monsieur Charles-Camille is also the sort of classical composer Jeff should feel affinity with, with his emphasis on cellos and violins, his sense of humour and his appealingly catchy melodies.
Saint-Saens gave his first public concert at the age of five. He was one of the first pianists to experiment with recordings, and was the earliest-born pianist to ever make a recording of his work. Saint-Saëns also became the first famous name to provide a score to a film, 'The Assassination of the Duke of Guise'.
Don't listen to everything if you don't feel like it, any one of these works represent the composer just as well as all of them.
1. Third ("Organ") Symphony
To begin with here is Saint-Saens's Third Symphony, the "Organ", which is perhaps his best known piece. I have only included here the Finale as that's the part that is most famous since it was used in a certain film about a pig. Many "serious" composers might be irritated by the liberty the movie took with the piece but I think Charles-Camille would have enjoyed the animal connections as he had a great sense of humour when it came to the animal/music crossover as you well see later...
2. Danse Macabre
Another of Saint-Saens's pieces that has become more famous over the years. There is a version with song-words to it but I prefer the regular orchestra version. I reckon Mik could play this very well .
3. Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
More strings and violins here. Also a bit of a 'Livin' Thing' vibe going on - Saint-Saens shows that Jeff isn't the only composer able to get violin playing ladies on stage to perform his music. Both Jeff and Charles-Camille seem to have caught onto a similar sounding idea with the violin riffs. I've seen Janine Jansen, who is playing this, live and I have to say that she's one of the best.
4. Samson et Dalila - Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix
Roughly translating as 'Softly Awakes My Heart', this aria from Saint-Saens opera Samson and Delilah is one of my favourites. It's short and works well as a song by itself. This version is sung by Olga Borodina, the best person in my opinion to have sang it.
5. Samson et Dalila - Bacchanale
Another piece from Samson and Delilah, in fact this is maybe one of my very favourite Saint-Saens pieces. What Thomas Beecham might call a "lollipop". For our South American members, here is the South American conductor Gustavo Dudamel. One of my favourite conductors, he makes the job look like great fun.
6. Le carnaval des animaux
And now for the jewel in Saint-Saens's crown - The Carnival of the Animals, composed in 1886, was originally written as a joke and Saint-Saëns became worried that it might damage his reputation. Bashful in a Jeff Lynne/'Beatles Forever'-style way, he banned complete performances and only allowed one movement, The Swan, to be published while he was alive.
Here, cello fans, is The Swan if you don't fancy listening to the whole piece. I'd love to hear Hughie play this! -
From the beginning, Saint-Saëns regarded The Carnival of the Animals as a piece of fun. On 9 February 1886 he wrote to his publishers that he was composing a work for the coming Shrove Tuesday, and confessing that he knew he should be working on his Third Symphony, but that this work was "such fun" ("... mais c'est si amusant!"). Obviously Jeff must have been channelling Charles-Camille when he thought of writing 'Jungle' and 'The Whale' . Other than The Swan, The Aquarium, Fossils and the Finale are the most well known parts.
Here are the animals -
0:00 - Introduction et marche royale du lion (Introduction and Royal March of the Lion)
2:19 - Poules et coqs (Hens and Roosters)
3:02 - Hémiones (animaux véloces) (Wild Asses: Swift Animals)
3:36 - Tortues (Tortoises)
7:02 - L'éléphant (The Elephant)
8:26 - Kangourous (Kangaroos)
9:24 - Aquarium
12:05 - Personnages à longues oreilles (Personages with Long Ears)
12:46 - Le coucou au fond des bois (The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods)
15:23 - Volière (Aviary)
16:43 - Pianistes (Pianists)
18:19 - Fossiles (Fossils)
19:43 - Le cygne (The Swan)
23:47 - Final (Finale)
Facts - Tortoises features Offenbach's Can-Can played slowly by the strings. This is one of the composer's musical jokes - a very fast dance danced at a tortoise's pace!
- The Elephant also features a music joke - Berlioz's "Dance of the Sylphs" is used here, originally written for high, lighter-toned instruments, the joke is that Saint-Saëns moves this to the lowest and heaviest-sounding instrument in the orchestra, the double bass for a more elephant and less sylph-like sound.
I hope you have enjoyed at least one of Saint-Saens pieces. I think out of any classical composers he is the most ELO-like as he isn't stingy with melodies and isn't opposed to having fun with his music.