BAM 2063

the belair collection




After a concert tour of Germany in 1885-86, Camille Saint-Saëns withdrew to a small Austrian village, where he composed Le Carnaval des Animaux in February 1886. He wanted to offer this lovely fancy of exquisite music mingled with good-natured jokes as a surprise at the annual Shrove Tuesday Concert.

From the beginning, Saint-Saëns regarded the work as a piece of fun. On 9 February 1886 he wrote to his publishers Durand in Paris that he was composing a work for the coming Shrove Tuesday, and confessing that he knew he should be working on his Third Symphony, but that this work was "such fun" ("... mais c'est si amusant!"). He had apparently intended to write the work for his students at the École Niedermeyer, but it was first performed at a private concert given by the cellist Charles Lebouc on Shrove Tuesday, 9 March 1886.

A second (private) performance was given on 2 April at the home of Pauline Viardot with an audience including Franz Liszt, a friend of the composer, who had expressed a wish to hear the work. There were other private performances, typically for the French mid-Lent festival of Mi-Carême, but Saint-Saëns was adamant that the work would not be published in his lifetime, seeing it as detracting from his "serious" composer image. He relented only for the famous cello solo The Swan, which forms the penultimate movement of the work, and which was published in 1887 in an arrangement by the composer for cello and solo piano (the original uses two pianos).

Saint-Saëns did specify in his will that the work should be published posthumously. Following his death in December 1921, the work was published by Durand in Paris in April 1922 and the first public performance was given on 25 February 1922 by Concerts Colonne (the orchestra of Édouard Colonne).

Carnaval... has since become one of Saint-Saëns's best-known works, played by the original eleven instrumentalists, or more often with the full string section of an orchestra. Normally a glockenspiel substitutes for the rare glass harmonica. Ever popular with music teachers and young children, it is often recorded in combination with Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf or Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

Ekaterina Melnikova
As International Concert Organist and Composer Ekaterina is the rarest of musicians - performing on an instrument not noted for its popularity, she manages, season after season, to keep audiences on the edge of their seats in the finest concert halls of Russia, Europe and around the world.
Ekaterina Melnikova is unusual in Russia for her mastery of the English, French and Russian traditions of organ music. Having received the finest education in two of the world’s most prestigious music schools, the Moscow Conservatory and London’s Royal Academy of Music,. She is a sought-after guest at Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, La Trinité and Notre Dame in Paris, Cologne and Monaco cathedrals and other celebrated concert venues in Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and elsewhere.

Ms. Melnikova’s transcriptions for organ Le Carnaval des Animaux by C.Saint-Saens, Polovtzian Dances from Prince Igor by A.P.Borodin and Barber of Seville Sinfonia by G.Rossini have been published by Wayne Leopold Editions, North Carolina, USA. Among her many compositions are Missa XXI for SATB choir and organ, Beethoven-Tango for organ and double basse and Toccata Freeway for organ solo.

In Ekaterina’s own words: “I simply adore the Grande Fantasie Zoologique, as Camille Saint-Saens called Le Carnaval des Animaux. The composer wanted it played only posthumously, not to shadow a bit his glory of a serious composer. Why? Well, an attentive listener will recognize fragments of the tunes popular at the time - last half of the XIXth century - wittingly interwoven into the music. The elephant double bass is gracefully waltzing the Ballet de Silphes from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust and the tortoises are in fact dancing in their own way to Offenbach’s Can-Can.

The joke of the genius was picked up by another extraordinary artist, the XXth century cartoonist whose little monkey, and kitten Gav, and Cheburashka and Crocodile Gena…and many other characters have been admired by many generations in my country. Leonid Schwartzman, responded promptly to the idea of illustrations to Le Carnaval..., and the sketches came out embracing very naturally Saint-Saens’s contemporary ironic allusions and adding a spark of laughter from the new times!... Any similarities of facial expressions of animals to those of well-known musicians are incidental, or… well, in any case - made with love!”

 Leonid Schwartzman
or “Liolly” (his nick name), is the formidable artistic creator of the cartoon drawings of Le Carnaval des Animaux. He was born August 30, 1920 and is the legendary Russian classic of animation, the creator of a visual image of Cheburashka and other cartoon characters.

Artistic director of such publicly favourite cartoons like The Scarlet Flower, Golden antelope, The Snow Queen, Varezhka cycles cartoon Cheburashka and Crocodile Gena. Kitten named Bow and 38 Parrots, directed by cartoons Garland of the kids, Gullible dragon, a film from the series Beware of Monkeys and many others. In Liolly’s own words: «This music gives a lot of freedom to the imagination of the artist, it portrays animals – and musicians! – in amusing situations. It is full of humor and a pleasure to illustrate.»




"Introduction et marche royale du lion" (Introduction & Lion's Royal March)
"Poules et coqs" (Hens and Cocks)
"Hémiones" (Swift Animals)
"Tortues" (Tortoises)
"L'éléphant" (The Elephants)
"Kangourous" (Kangaroos)
"Personnages à longues oreilles" (Personages with Long Ears)
"Le coucou au fond des bois" (The cuckoo in the Deep Woods)
"Volière" (Aviary)
"Pianistes" (The Pianists)
"Fossiles" (Fossils)
"Le Cygne" (The Swan)



Total time

download digital quality MPEG3 sound sample
Free sample track
- L'éléphant /The Elephant

 Apple Lossless MPEG-4 audio
Recorded in Monaco Cathedral - 08/2016
BAM 2063 © & ℗ 2016 Bel Air Music - All Rights Reserved.




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