February 12, 2016

Quartet gone wild: Salut Salon takes on Carnival of the Animals

The new album fuses Camille Saint-Saëns' classic with tango, cabaret, and plenty of surprises.
Whether the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns liked animals, we don’t know. It has been said, however, that he had the memory of an elephant. Everything he ever read or heard, he remembered. It went so far that sometimes he was no longer sure if the music that he composed was really his music, or that of another composer he had heard previously. At any rate, for his famous Carnival of the Animals his elephantine musical memory proved very helpful – he masterfully plays with the works of his colleagues: quoting, parodying and twisting the familiar into something completely new.
 
For A Carnival of the Animals and Other Fantasies, Salut Salon took their inspiration and starting point from Saint-Saëns.” The quartet founders Angelika Bachmann (violin) and Iris Siegfried (violin and vocals), together with Anne-Monika von Twardowski (piano) and Sonja Lena Schmid (cello) bring their musical virtuosity to the stage – and into the studio. Naturally there are newly arranged pieces from

Camille Saint-Saëns’ famous Carnival – the majestic 'Introduction and Royal March of the Lion,' the exciting 'Flight Animals,' plunging to the depths for 'The Aquarium,' full of naively twittering birds in 'The Aviary' or the proud 'Swan.'

But Salut Salon, known for their unique interpretations of their beloved classical music, would not be Salut Salon if they didn’t take Saint-Saëns’ zoological fantasy and embark on their own fantastical journey. Combining classical favourites with seldom-heard gems, they transport even minor characters into the spotlight – like the luminescent jellyfish or the snake Kaa from The Jungle Book.

Saint-Saëns’s idea of the pure joy in transformation is the underlying theme of the album. Just like at the carnival, where the world is turned upside-down and nothing is as it appears, the boundary between humans and animals begins to dissolve. Many discover their animal alter-ego living in the music – or revel in the subtle humour that makes the world go round.

Anything is possible. Billy May’s Green Hornet is transformed by Salut Salon into a quirky and surprising arrangement, a talent for which the four exceptional musicians from Hamburg are renowned, as well as Saint-Saëns’s Africa,  Jaques Ibert’s Little White Donkey, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze or Astor Piazzolla’s Escualo. John Williams’ Jaws theme rears its head, running into Klaus Doldinger’s Boot and Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife. Welcome to the realm of fantasy!

Salut Salon's new album Carnival Fantasy is set to be released on 26 February.