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Jonathan Orwig Plays Saint-Saëns

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My second Once Upon the Internet post in our Lenten organ series presents the complete sets of Preludes and Fugues for organ of French composer and organ virtuoso, Camille Saint-Saëns.

For all his notoriety as a dominant figure in French music, we seem to forget that Saint-Saëns played the organ at various churches in Paris and in the surrounding area. In 1857, he replaced Louis Lefébure-Wely at the eminent position of organist at the Église de la Madeleine, which he kept until 1877. His weekly improvisations stunned the Parisian public and earned Liszt's 1866 observation that Saint-Saëns was ”the greatest organist in the world”.

Saint-Saens compositions for organ are surprisingly few - based on their opus numbers, many of them are either early works or works of the mature composer. Although it is one of his more famous compositions, the Saint-Saens “Symphony with organ” which I featured in my Podcast Vault post a couple of weeks ago provides more of an opportunity for the organ to “play along” with the orchestra than, say, a work specifically intended for a virtuoso organist – Saint-Saens was the conductor at the London premiere of the work, and not the organ soloist…

The two sets of three Preludes and Fugues date from 1894 and 1898, respectively, and therefore post-date Saint-Saens’ tenure at Sainte-Madeleine by nearly 20 years but it was still surely the reedy sound of that particular organ he had in mind when they were composed. The French composer’s economical style, coupled with his understanding of the sound of a great instrument conspire to provide two sets of at times eclectic and very different preludes and fugues. This isn’t quite your Father Bach Prelude and fugues…

The recording I uploaded years ago is by organist (and preacher) Jonathan Orwig. According to, these recordings date back to the year 2000 when Orwig served as Pastor of Worship for First Baptist Church of Riverside, California. I am assuming these works were recorded on the Church’s 1966 Schantz organ .

As filler, I included a separate work (downloaded from, a website that has since removed its music links) by French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé, a choral and a capalla chorus work inspired by the latin text Veni Creator Spiritus (made famous by Gustav Mahler in his Symphony of a Thousand). Duruflé himself is playing his longtime organ at St-Etienne–du-Mont.

Happy Listening!

Camille SAINT- SAENS (1835-1921)

Préludes et Fugues, Op.99
No. 1.In Eb
No. 2.In B
No. 3.In Bb

Préludes et Fugues, Op.109
No. 1.In D-
No. 2.In G-
No. 3.In C

Jonathan Orwig, organ
Inst: Schantz organ, First Baptist Church of Riverside, California

Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Prelude, Adagio, and Chorale Variations on
'Veni, Creator Spiritus', for organ and baritone choir, Op.4
Maurice Durufle, organ
Baritone chorus of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont
Inat: Gallery organ, Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont (Paris)

Downloaded from MP3.COM and ca. 2002
Performance URL :

March 22 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Requiem in d-Moll" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more March 22 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Mar-19-2013 at 13:02 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Musicians , Composers , Recorded Music