Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 - Latry, Eschenbach

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 - Latry, Eschenbach

Ondine  ODE 1094-5

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C minor Op. 78 "Organ Symphony", Poulenc: Organ Concerto in G minor, Barber: Toccata Festiva

Olivier Latry (organ)
Philadelphia Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach (conductor)

A sonic spectacular with the 'King of Instruments'... - For their fourth recording together, Music Director Christoph Eschenbach leads The Philadelphia Orchestra through a program of prominent masterpieces for organ and orchestra, joined by world-renowned organist Olivier Latry of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris: the majestic "Organ" Symphony by Saint-Saëns, the spiritually imbued Organ Concerto by Poulenc and the very celebratory Toccata Festiva by Barber. Recorded at the inaugural concerts of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the largest concert organ in the United States, this recording captures The Philadelphia Orchestra and its new organ in all their sonic glory. The press qualified the performances as electrifying ("one of the great performances in Eschenbach's music-director tenure. (…) If this performance is well-captured on disc, it will be a case of lightning in a bottle." - The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13, 2006).

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32 of 37 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

PCM recording
Reviews (1)

Review by Mark Novak - February 13, 2007

Let me start with the best part of this recording - the sonics. They are really very good, especially when the organ is playing. The lowest octaves are captured very well giving the sound a stable, realistic foundation that so many recordings lack. The integration of orchestra and organ is also very good. The low organ pedal note near the end of the Saint-Saens is fantastic!

Sonics aside, its downhill from there. The piece of main interest to most will be the Saint-Saens Sym 3 and unfortunately it is not a stellar performance. The first two movements are taken slowly to the point that I almost lost interest in the performance each time I listened to it. Maybe others would categorize the approach as pensive or thoughtful - for me it was just turgid and boring. Then, we have a third mvmt that speeds along at a hectic clip. Too fast! If there is a redeeming feature to this performance its in the last mvmt which is taken at an appropriate pace and ends in a satisying conclusion. Overall, a disappointing performance and one for which I had high hopes. Only 2 stars for performance on this work.

The Poulenc is a work I've known for years and I must say it is better performed than the S-S. Here the tempos are more "normal" and the piece benefits from that approach. I'd rank this performance as 4 stars.

The Barber is unfamiliar to me. It begins with a bang and Escenbach seems to do a good job of directing traffic here. I'm glad to have made its acquaintence with this recording. 4 stars here as well.

Overall, factoring in the performance of the Saint-Saens, I'd give this an overall 3 stars for performance.

Copyright © 2007 Mark Novak and


Sonics (Stereo):

stars stars
Comments (7)

Comment by Paul Hannah - April 22, 2017 (1 of 7)

I have to disagree with this review ! I have just completed a comparison of this recording with the much praised RR recording with the Kansas. I am afraid this seems to be a unjustly maligned recording performance wise....and I disagree totally. After listening to both I think this performance is superior to the Kansas on RR ! Certainly the organ sound is much meatier and its entrance in the final movement leaves the RR Kansas issue for dead ! I find it interesting that although the Kansas on RR was awarded a Grammy most UK & European reviews favour this Americans have different ears ?

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - April 23, 2017 (2 of 7)

RR do excellent PR and I believe Eschenbach wasn't liked so much in Philadelphia. Both have nothing to do with the musical content.

Comment by hiredfox - April 23, 2017 (3 of 7)

Totally agree with Paul. This is an excellent account by any standards, superbly recorded and a clear first choice in my mind.

Comment by William Hecht - April 25, 2017 (4 of 7)

I was fortunate to attend one of the concerts that produced this recording. The new organ was, of course, the focal point of the evening, but for once Eschenbach and the orchestra appeared to be playing from the same score and I agree, the recording is excellent, a fine memento of an exciting concert. To my mind the other really good recording in Ondine's series from Philadelphia is Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra - Eschenbach, even better music equally well played and recorded. The other discs in the series have fine sound and the orchestra performs valiantly under a conductor with whom it rarely seemed to be in synch. Eschenbach had his defenders here in Philadelphia, but many of us, including many of the musicians, were not sad to see him go.

Comment by john hunter - April 27, 2017 (5 of 7)

Have to agree with the praise for the Philly recording over that of the Kansas one.
I find RR recordings like their Organ Symphony difficult to enjoy given the frequent perspective changes.
I find them much overrated.
Give me Telarc any day!.

Comment by jdaniel1371 - May 4, 2017 (6 of 7)

I was disappointed in the Kansas Organ Symphony as well. Stern seems to be one of those "micromanaging" conductors. Not a single phrase goes by without being sculpted in some way. 1st movt too slow, 2nd movt as well, subsidiary themes given too much prominence and last movt not incisive and energetic enough for my tastes. I went back to Paray's.

Comment by Paul Hannah - May 8, 2017 (7 of 7)

Thanks guys......Glad to know its not my Aussie ears...LOL And that others prefer this recording . And I agree with the above comment before the RR Kansas recording I too much prefer the old Paray from years back !