Camille Saint-Saëns, 1877.
Bacchanale Op. 47 (from Samson et Dalila).
The ultra-conservative French composer, Saint-Saëns, was the musical rival of Claude Debussy. While Debussy's work was emotional and expressive, Saint-Saëns' work was technical and structured. Saint-Saëns entered the musical scene at the beginning of the era dominanted by the great Romantics (Wagner, Debussy, Strauss, etc) and the end of more traditional composers like Liszt, Mendelssohn and Chopin. Where his critics would argue that his technicallity and polish led to dry music, his supporters would argue that no one was able to demonstrate the natural beauty of music like Saint-Saëns.
The Saint-Saëns work entitled Bacchanale is from the great Opera Samson et Dalila. Perhaps my favorite Saint-Saëns work, it reminds me of what Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade might have sounded like had it been written before the Romantics came to the forefront.
Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Philadelphia Orchestra (Ormandy conducts) available here.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Maazel conducts) abailable here.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Barenboim conducts) available here.
Artwork: Gustave Moreau // Samson et Dalila