Much of Saint-Säens's orchestral music has slipped from view in the last couple of decades, and we have also managed to forget what a colossal figure he was in his time. Such was his status at the turn of the 20th century, in fact, that when he offered to write a March for the coronation of Edward VII, he was allowed, after a bit of diplomatic to-ing and fro-ing, to go ahead. The March, as grand as anything by Elgar, is the closing item on this rather fine disc, which gives a nice selection of his work. The tone poems are recorded complete: Danse Macabre is the best known, though Phäeton is actually the masterpiece. There are musical sketches of Lisbon and Algiers that Saint-Säens wrote on his many travels, along with the recently discovered Spartacus overture, which sounds like a trial run for the still popular Third Symphony. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra play with consummate elegance for their former music director Neeme Järvi, though their very authentic sound in French music also shows the influence of Stéphane Denève's more recent tenure.
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