Bizet & Saint-Saëns

All our concerts of season 20-21 are under reservation. 

Bizet and Saint-Saëns make a dream team – two composers from the City of Light, about the same age (Bizet was three years younger), friends and colleagues, and yet extremely different: Bizet was frivolous and lyrical, interested in Spanish folklore (or at least how it was conceived of in Paris), and Saint-Saëns was serious and grand, virtuosic and with a hint of the Germanic.
In 1899 Saint-Saëns wrote a wonderful article in “Portraits et Souvenirs” praising Bizet’s talent and his fine qualities as a person. “L’Arlesienne” (The Girl from Arles) was a play that Bizet furnished with music. The score is normally performed in a later arrangement and with a larger orchestra. Anima Eterna will play the original orchestration, in which the saxophone appears as an “exotic” instrument.

The Third Symphony by Saint-Saëns is a masterful work. Liszt called it the best symphony ever written and that would ever be written. He may well have been right! Saint-Saëns, an organist himself (at La Madeleine), wrote the organ into the symphony not as a concerto soloist, but as an integral part of the orchestra. This symphony is rarely performed as intended. On the one hand, most of the concert-hall Cavaillé-Coll organs from his time have been renovated or removed, while on the other hand the aesthetic of the newer instruments in the concert halls is quite different from the French symphonic organ. There is, however, a solution that can allow a complete Cavaillé-Coll organ to be played with the orchestra, with the right timbres, dynamics and perfectly in tune. We are talking about a “Hauptwerk” organ, an ingenious wonder that uses the electronically sampled sounds taken from each separate pipe. Anima has already worked with the brilliant harpsichordist and organist Katarzina Chrobokova on several productions. Although she attaches great importance to the “pursuit of authenticity”, for the Saint-Saëns Symphony she is resolute in opting for Hauptwerk. This means that Anima Eterna will be able to play with (the sounds of) one of the most perfectly preserved French organs (1885), the Cavaillé-Coll in Abbatiale St. Etienne in Caen.

Are you suspicious? Every music lover loves to listen to (electronic) CDs, but in the concert we work with a professional installation and loudspeakers that can handle a symphonic organ. We cannot perform in a church in France with a fine Cavaillé-Coll, so we think this solution will serve the original sound better than an unsuitable type of organ. Saint-Säens wrote: “J’ai donné là tout ce que pouvais donner.”

Jos van Immerseel

Translation by Anne Hudgkinson

Concerts

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Date Time Location Project Tickets  
06-05-'21 20:00 Concertgebouw Brugge Tickets
Program
  • Georges Bizet (1838-1875) - L’Arlésienne drame en trois actes (1872) Suite dans l'orchestration originale
  • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) - Symphonie N° 3 en do mineur (avec Orgue) (1886)
Soloist
  • Katerina Chroboková - organ
09-05-'21 20:00 Opéra de Dijon Tickets
Program
  • Georges Bizet (1838-1875) - L’Arlésienne drame en trois actes (1872) Suite dans l'orchestration originale
  • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) - Symphonie N° 3 en do mineur (avec Orgue) (1886)
Soloist
  • Katerina Chroboková - organ