The essence of Camille Saint-Saëns' music comes through perhaps most clearly in his music for solo instrument and orchestra, which exemplifies his elegant combination of melody and conservatory-generated virtuosity. The two cello concertos are here, plus a pair of crowd-pleasing short works for piano and orchestra, and the evergreen Carnival of the Animals, with pianists Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier joining forces along with a collection of instruments that includes the often-omitted glass harmonica. There are all kinds of attractions here: the gently humorous and not over-broad Carnival, the songful cello playing of Truls Mørk, and the little-known piano-and-orchestra scene Africa, Op. 89, with its lightly Tunisian flavor (sample this final track). But really, the central thread connecting them all is the conducting of Neeme Järvi and the light, graceful work of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; French music is the nearly 80-year-old Järvi's most congenial environment, and in this recording, perhaps his last devoted to Saint-Saëns, he has never been better.
New Naïve signing baritone Stéphane Degout has already featured as soloist with the internationally renowned choral group Accentus on Brahms' German Requiem and Fauré's Requiem. The programme on his solo debut CD is a selection of mélodies by various French composers, Debussy, Ravel, Duparc, Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, and Reynaldo Hahn. Stéphane Degout first met pianist Hélène Lucas when he entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon in 1995.
Bolero has in the Spanish singer Ramon Batista Calabuch (Barcelona, 1940), alias 'Moncho', one of his more mature and talented voices of the Latin world. He dedicated his style to the romantic song and the bolero, following in the footsteps of his idol, Lucho Gatica. Today he is known as 'El Gitano del Bolero'. He has recorded, after more than 40 years in the music world, 34 discs of boleros. This album is a compilation of his 30 favorites, published in Spain in double CD.