“Saint-Saëns’ Third Symphony stands as one of the unique works in the standard symphonic repertoire. And make no mistake about it: this is truly a symphony with organ, not an Organ Symphony. In fact, the king of instruments only plays for about 10 minutes in this piece. But what an incredible ten minutes they are. The dynamics range from the softest pianissimo to the incredible fortes of the finale.
Lost in all this is that this piece is a true masterwork of inspiration and construction. Basically there are only two themes that are presented, each varied as the symphony progresses. The orchestra is showcased in both tender and virtuoso passages. It is a work I have never stopped loving.”
To celebrate the inauguration of the newly restored former organ of the Palais du Trocadéro and Palais de Chaillot in Paris, the Orchestre National de Lyon and their organist-in-residence, Vincent Warnier, present two major works for organ and orchestra by Camille Saint-Saëns, both of which are historically linked with the great Cavaillé-Coll organs. The composer himself conducted the French première of Cyprès et Lauriers at the Trocadéro in October 1920, entrusting the solo part to Eugène Gigout.
Listen to an excerpt from Symphony No. 3 ‘Organ’: II. Maestoso
Listen to Rick Phillips' podcast: Saint-Saëns and the King of Instruments
Leonard Slatkin is currently music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and of the Orchestre National de Lyon, and principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His one hundred-plus recordings have earned seven GRAMMY® Awards and more than sixty GRAMMY® Award nominations. He has received many other honours, including the 2003 US National Medal of Arts, France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton for service to American music.
The Orchestre National de Lyon became a permanent orchestra of 102 musicians in 1969, with Louis Frémaux as its first musical director (1969–1971). It was run and supported financially by the City of Lyon, which in 1975 provided it with a concert hall, the Lyon Auditorium. Under the leadership of Emmanuel Krivine (1987–2000), David Robertson (2000–2004) and Jun Märkl (2005-2011), the orchestra increasingly received international critical acclaim. Leonard Slatkin has been its music director since the 2011–2012 season.
Winner of the Grand Prix for performance at the 1992 Chartres International Organ Competition, Vincent Warnier is resident organist at the Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris (a post he inherited from Maurice Duruflé) and at Notre-Dame cathedral at Verdun. In September 2013 he also began a two-season residency at the Lyon Auditorium.
“Slatkin leads the orchestra with energy and humor, making sure that the picturesque aspects of the piece [Harold en Italie] are vividly conveyed. This program is sure to please Berlioz aficionados.” – Allmusic.com