CLASSICAL Saint-Saens, Camille: ''The Carnival of the Animals'' (original version); and Septet. Michel Beroff, Jean-Philippe Collard (piano), Maurice Andre (trumpet), and ensemble. EMI/Angel S-37874.Skip to next paragraph
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''The Carnival of the Animals.'' With Ravel, Maurice: ''Ma Mere l'Oye.'' Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn. (Philips DIGITAL 9500 973). - Here we have two more recordings of an already overrecorded work, but both have something to offer. The EMI/Angel release gives us the ''Carnival'' in its original chamber version, with all-French musicians who fully understand the special demands of this inimitably Gallic composer. The performance is at once immensely witty, full of charm, and superbly virtuosic. The ''Septet,'' a less familiar work, adds some interesting insights into a composer known for very few works relative to his large output. The Septet escapes being merely conventional by the trumpet part, which adds such an interesting color to the ensemble; Saint-Saens explores all those coloristic possibilities. Previn opts for full orchestra in the ''Carnival,'' and gives us a very straightforward, lush, but slightly humorless account of the work. But on the flip he renders the Ravel with subdued warmth and elegance. Good performances of this underrecorded work are rare, and Previn's is very good, indeed. The Pittsburgh plays well, the engineering is typically magnificent Philips work, making it a handsome release overall.