Thursday, March 1, 2018

English suites and others no. 26

In search of suites, our musical quest moves to the European continent, or perhaps the African one. Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, well-known for his Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, and Organ Symphony, who spent a lot of his time in Algeria, then a French possession, ostensibly for his health.

While he didn't delve deeply into the local folk music as Gustav Holst would a few years later for Beni Mora, already heard in this series, Saint-Saëns did write an Algerian Suite inspired by local color of sorts. Curiously, while one movement of this suite is a pops favorite, the rest is unknown. I spent years tracking down a recording of this, and then years more tracking down a good one, but it's possible to hear it now.

And sure enough, while each movement is charming and tuneful, it's the finale which is so mindblowingly catchy that it drove the other three movements into oblivion. Hear them all now: Prelude (0.00), Moorish Rhapsody (4.00), Evening Reverie (10.54), and the French Military March (16.34).

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