Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre; Le Rouet d'Omphale; Phaéton; La Jeunesse d'Hércule; Marche héroïque; Introduction and Rondo capriccioso; Havanaise

Reviewed on Tue 07 May, 2013

If you love Carnival of the Animals and have ever wondered what other treasures came from the pen of the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, this outstandingly rewarding Decca anthology will prove an ideal purchase. Among available recordings of these glitteringly colourful tone-poems Charles Dutoit's 1980 versions stand very high: not only does he draw some deliciously poised playing from the Philharmonia, he brings heaps of affection, twinkling fun and a sharp ear to this glitteringly colourful repertoire. The sound, too, is superbly realistic and wide-ranging, with enticingly glowing textures and a perfectly judged balance throughout. If not quite in the Jascha Heifetz or David Oistrakh class, Kyung Wha Chung gives delectably unforced readings of the flamboyant Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and irresistibly slinky Havanaise; Dutoit (this time with the RPO) partners with idiomatic understanding. 66 minutes of pure enjoyment!
–Andrew Achenbach