About this Recording
8.550752 - SAINT-SAENS: Violin Concerto No. 3 / Caprice Andalous

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921)
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Romance in C Major, Op. 48
Caprice andalous in G Major, Op.122
Morceau de concert in G Major, Op. 62
Violin Concerto No.3 in B Minor, Op. 61

Camille Saint-Saëns enjoyed a long and prolific career as a composer. As a younger man he was a leading supporter of newer tendencies in French music: in old age his opposition to Debussy, whom he outlived by three years, earned him a deserved reputation as an enemy of w hat was seen as progress. His later critics, who could hardly dispute his technical command, wrote of bad music well written, an unmerited jibe at a composer who had achieved much in a variety of fields. An admirer of Mozart, he was known to some as the French Mendelssohn, and his music always possessed the clarity of form and texture common to these earlier composers, elements that influenced his friend and pupil Gabriel Fauré and, vicariously, Fauré's own pupil Maurice Ravel. Gounod referred to him as the French Beethoven, and these flattering comparisons are evidence of the esteem in which he was held.

In his personal life Saint-Saëns was not always fortunate. As a boy he was brought up by his mother and his great-aunt, two women to whom he was devoted, the latter his first teacher. His marriage at the age of fort y to a nineteen-year-old, to his mother's marked disapproval, was predictably disastrous and was brought to an end, after the death of his two young sons through illness and accident. In 1881 Saint-Saëns, on holiday with his wife, simply walked out, never to return. For the remaining forty years of his life, and particularly after the death of his mother in 1888, he lavished affection on his dogs and on his pupil Fauré, whom he had first met as a student at the Ecole Niedermeyer in Paris in 1861.

A child prodigy as a pianist, Saint-Saëns entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1848, studying the organ with Benoist and composition with Bizet's father- in-law Halevy. After earlier positions as organist, in 1957 he became organist at the Madeleine, where his improvisations made a profound impression on Liszt. His own catholic musical tastes led him to do much to revive interest in France in the music of Bach, Handel and Mozart, while his progressive interests led him to an appreciation of Wagner, of Schumann and of the innovative symphonic poems of Liszt. In 1871 he shared in the establishment of the société Nationale de Musique for the encouragement of contemporary French music, although, as the years passed, he found the new world of music unacceptable.

Saint-Saëns added very significantly to violin repertoire, with three concertos for the instrument, in addition to a number of shorter works for violin and orchestra. The most popular of these last is the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Opus 28, written in 1863, during his brief period as a piano teacher at the Ecole Niedermeyer. Saint-Saëns dedicated this, as well as his first and third concertos, to the Spanish virtuoso Pablo Sarasate. The Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and the Caprice andalous of 1904 make considerable use of Spanish rhythms and turns of phrase, something to be expected in the second of these two works. The third of his violin concertos, written in 1880, has much in common with the single-movement Morceau de concert in G major, Opus 62, of the same year, to all intents and purposes a concerto first movement in itself. These, with the Romance in C major, written in 1874, all furnish splendid examples of the composer's clarity of form and texture, his idiomatic handling of the violin, and at the same time bear witness to a certain conservatism, at least in the Caprice andalous of 1904, written two years after the first performance of Debussy's Pélleas et Mélisande. The Caprice shows the same facility and is in much the same impeccable idiom as music Saint-Saëns had written fort y years earlier, and is none the worse for that.

Dong-Suk Kang
Dong-Suk Kang first came to the attention of the concert-going public when he won both the San Francisco Symphony Competition and the Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, D.C., thereafter going on to win important prizes in several international competitions, among them the Montreal, the Carl Flesch in London and the Queen Elisabeth in Brussels. In his highly successful career he has appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world in major cities from Los Angeles and Philadelphia to London, Paris and St. Petersburg, in collaboration with some of the most distinguished conductors of our time. His recordings have won critical acclaim, with awards that include the Grand Prix du Disque of the Academie Charles Cros and the Nouvelle Academie du Disque.

The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (PNRSO)
The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (PNRSO) was founded in 1935 in Warsaw through the initiative of well-known Polish conductor and composer Grzegorz Fitelberg. Under his direction the ensemble worked till the outbreak of the World War II. Soon after the war, in March 1945, the orchestra was resurrected in Katowice by the eminent Polish conductor Witold Rowjcki. In 1947 Grzegorz Fitelberg returned to Poland and became artistic director of the PNRSO. He was followed by a series of distinguished Polish conductors - Jan Krenz, Bohdan Wodiezko, Kazimierz Kord, Tadeusz Strugala, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Stanislaw Wislocki and, since 1983, Antoni Wit. The orchestra has appeared with conductors and soloists of the greatest distinction and has recorded for Polskie Nagrania and many international record labels. For Naxos, the PNRSO will record the complete symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Mahler.

Antoni Wit
Antoni Wit was born in Cracow in 1944 and studied there, before becoming assistant to Witold Rowicki with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw in 1967. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Penderecki and in 1971 was a prize-winner in the Herbert von Karajan Competition. Study at Tanglewood with Skrowaczewski and Seiji Ozawa was followed by appointment as Principal Conductor first of the Pomeranian Philharmonic and then of the Cracow Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1983 he took up the position of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. Antoni Wit has undertaken many engagements abroad with major orchestras, ranging from the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Welsh and Scottish Symphony Orchestras to the Kusatsu Festival Orchestra in Japan.

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