Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Saint-Saëns: early symphonies

Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) made his first symphonic experiment in his sixteenth year; but the one of which he acknowledged the parentage and proudly issued as "Number One"---in E-flat, Op.2---was composed in 1855, in his twentieth year. It is of greater historical than artistic consequence, and aroused but little interest or attention. It is orthodox and by no means devoid of innocent attractions.

With his Second Symphony, in A minor, Op.55, written much later, the case was decidedly different; for in this work Saint-Saëns placed on record some of the finest and most engaging fruits of his genial powers of musical expression, and the work attracted respectful attention, and won cordial recognition, at home and abroad.

It embraces the usual four Movements: an Allegro appassionato (with Introduction), concise in form, sparkling in character, smooth, and finely impelled in its structural unfolding; an Adagio of superior merit; a Scherzo; and a vivacious Finale, prestissimo, in the major mode, in the conventional Rondo-form.


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