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See latest reviews of other albums..., September 2016

[Saint-Saëns’] remarkably assured First Symphony, completed when he was a student at the age of 17, was praised by Berlioz and Gounod at its first performance. The elegantly crafted Second Symphony defies convention not least by basing the first movement on a fugue, while his brilliant symphonic poem Phaéton, also included here, skilfully brings this Greek mythological drama to life with stampeding horses, thunderbolts and a moving apotheosis. Marc Soustrot conducts the excellent Malmö Symphony Orchestra in the first volume of three that will feature all five Saint-Saëns Symphonies. This is music of the highest quality, beautifully played and recorded. © 2016

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2015

…this new recording by Marc Soustrot conducting the Malmö Symphony Orchestra is not just really good, it’s actually better than all of the others… Soustrot’s Swedish players sound alert and alive and perform with an enthusiasm tempered from the podium by strict discipline. The Sturm und Drang first movement of the A-Minor Symphony is especially well done, intense and exciting but controlled and not overwrought. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Steven Kruger
Fanfare, July 2015

…Soustrot is not far behind in energy and insight, and the Malmö Symphony is comfortable in French shoes.

Bravo! © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Paul L. Althouse
American Record Guide, July 2015

Soustrot and his Swedish orchestra present both [symphonies] in fine light. …the Malmö orchestra is convincing. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Brian Wigman
Classical Net, June 2015

Marc Soustrot clearly knows what he wants to bring to the table… In the Symphony #1, this pays off handsomely. The adagio is especially lovely, with an intelligently balanced harp. It’s also paced and phrased in a way that strikes me ideal for finding what dramatic tension this music holds.

In the Symphony #2, we find a more mature Camille Saint-Saëns exploring his symphonic abilities. There is tension and depth, and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra plays with both polish and zest. The unique combination of dramatics and effervescence that runs throughout the composer’s work is very much in evidence here.

Conductor Soustrot justifies Naxos’ claim that he is a French music specialist throughout the program. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, May 2015

Marc Soustrot’s Saint-Saëns performances are perfectly shaped and the playing of the totally committed Malmö Symphony Orchestra is up to the highest standards. The recorded sound is rich and ideally balanced. © 2015 Pizzicato

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, April 2015

…I was wholly engrossed in these readings and the playing of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and the recording of it is up to the highest standards. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Tim Ashley
The Guardian, April 2015

The performances from Marc Soustrot and the Malmö Symphony are strong and carefully considered, which admirably suits the symphonies… © 2015 The Guardian Read complete review

Geoffrey Norris
Gramophone, April 2015

This pairing, well played by the Swedish orchestra, shows Saint-Saëns flexing his symphonic muscles and, particularly in the Second Symphony, showing glimpses of those gifts for orchestration that were to manifest themselves fully later on—notably in the symphonic poem Phaéton, which is where this disc rises above the interesting to the truly stimulating. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Gérard Condé
Diapason, April 2015

The Adagio is a masterpiece of inspiration and drive. Once again, the Malmö Symphony finds colour, phrasing and balance between the music stands… © 2015 Diapason, March 2015

[This] new Naxos disc of Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 is especially welcome—all the more so because of the fine playing of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra under Marc Soustrot. © 2015 Read complete review

Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, March 2015

The sound here is simply wonderful and the music truly shines as best as it can. The Malmo players approach these works with commitment and sincerity enjoying the wonderful themes and perhaps appreciating where all these orchestral touches will lead the composer in the future. © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review

Rad Bennett
RadsReferenceReviews, March 2015

Both (symphonies) have a youthful vigor and jubilant charm that are captured perfectly in Soustrot’s precise and lyrical readings. The colorful Phaéton receives possibly its best performance ever. Excellent, full-bodied yet refined sound. © 2015 RadsReferenceReviews Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, March 2015

The Malmö Symphony Orchestra has a distinguished track record of Naxos recordings, and with this new release they embark on a series of the Saint-Saëns symphonies. Complete Saint-Saëns symphony cycles are rare, the only readily available version is the venerable 1970s set conducted by Jean Martinon. The prospect of this new three volume set, richly embellished with other orchestral works and conducted by acknowledged French music expert Marc Soustrot, will provide a welcome alternative. © 2015 Classical CD Choice Read complete review

Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, March 2015

Soustrot and his Malmo players respond to this early Saint-Saëns symphonic music with enthusiasm and élan. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, March 2015

In the First Symphony…Soustrot correctly highlights the adventurous writing for the harps, but never tastelessly, and some listeners may feel that the interpretation finds additional expressive depth in music often denigrated as merely sentimental. It’s good to hear it played with no apologies.

Soustrot’s exciting and rhythmically sharp reading of Phaéton makes a welcome bonus. This is unquestionably one of the best recordings of the piece, with an especially effective thunderbolt as Zeus hurls the hapless chariot (of the sun) driver from his seat. Attractively natural sonics round out a very promising start to this new series. © 2015 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2015

The first in a complete series containing the orchestral music of Saint-Saëns from the Malmo Symphony Orchestra and their French-born conductor, Marc Soustrot. Nowadays completely overshadowed by the popularity of his Third Symphony, the first two works in the genre came from the composer’s younger years, the First completed in 1859 while still a student. In content the second movement scherzo comes straight from the world of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while the extended slow movement must be one of the most intrinsically beautiful pieces of music you will hear. It is quite extended, and links directly into a processional that could well be the jubilant conclusion to a Wagner opera. In total the work might not quite hang together, though Soustrot and his superb players persuade me it should have more than an occasional hearing. The Second followed seven years later, and if it shows greater skills in construction and development of themes, much of the freshness of youth had disappeared. Still I much prefer it to many of the symphonic works in the standard repertoire, the short whirlwind scherzo becoming a pleasing diversion. We move to the composer at the height of his fame for the Symphonic Poem, Phaeton, much in the style of Liszt, its orchestration imaginative and often highly charged. As with the symphonies, Soustrot’s attention to dynamics has resulted in the most detailed performances, with a transparency that allows us to hear inner voices. Make no mistake, this is one of the finest Saint-Saëns orchestral discs I have ever encountered and fabulously recorded. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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