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Listen to ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ at home with the JPO

As part of the At Home with the JPO series, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra presents The Carnival of the Animals, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. The performance was recorded at the Linder Auditorium in August 2003 under the baton of Robert Maxym, featuring soloists, Pasquale Iannone and Paola Bruni.

Providing a bit of background on the original composition, The JPO’s Bongani Tembe says: ‘Following a disastrous concert tour of Germany, Saint-Saëns withdrew to a small Austrian village, where he composed The Carnival of the Animals in February 1886. From the beginning, Saint-Saëns regarded the work as a piece of fun! He had apparently intended to write the work for his students, however it was first performed at a private concert and described as a very witty fantasy burlesque, which was received with great enthusiasm.’

Conductor: Robert Maxym

Robert Maxym was born in New York and received musical training at the Manhattan School of Music. As conductor, Maxym has held numerous positions in Europe and his guest engagements have taken him all over the world.
     Since 1993, Maxym has made South Africa his home. In addition to his continuing conducting activities, he has also worked towards educational and cultural upliftment through music in many ways among the disadvantaged communities of the Gauteng area.
     As an orchestrator and composer, his epic collaboration with Mzilikazi Khumalo and Themba Msimang on the orchestration of UShaka (1994-99) has been followed by two other major projects and the orchestration of three choruses by Todd Matshikiza (1996-98). The first international tour of UShaka to Europe took place in April and May of 2004 as part of the South African Government’s ‘10 Years of Democracy’ celebrations. Ushaka premièred in the USA at the Ravinia Festival in June 2006.

Paola Bruni & Pasquale Iannone | Piano

A pianist of international renown, Pasquale Iannone graduated cum laude in 1984 at the Bari ‘N. Piccinni’ Conservatory and received a Diploma with honours at the Royal College of Music in London in 1987. Iannone has won several national and international competitions and has been top prize winner at the prestigious Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition in Salt Lake City (USA). In 2003 he succeeded in the Web Concert Hall International Competition (USA) winning both as a soloist and as a Piano Duo together with his wife and Italian pianist, Paola Bruni.
     Many of Iannone’s performances have been broadcast live and in 1997 he recorded two CDs. As a two pianos ensemble, Iannone and Bruni have been invited to play at prestigious concert societies in numerous countries across the world. The great conductor and composer Carlo Franci dedicated a piece for two pianos, great orchestra, and electronic sound to their Duo which was recorded by the Italian label Musicaimmagine under the baton of the composer himself.

Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns | 1835 – 1921

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era.
     Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy; he made his concert debut at the age of ten. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire he followed a conventional career as a church organist. After leaving the post 20 years later, he was a successful freelance pianist and composer, in demand in Europe and the Americas.
     As a young man, Saint-Saëns was enthusiastic for the most modern music of the day, particularly that of Schumann, Liszt and Wagner, although his own compositions were generally within a conventional classical tradition. He was a scholar of musical history and remained committed to the structures worked out by earlier French composers.

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