Carnival of the Animals


Saint Sans, Camille


The Swan – 2 mins 48 secs
The Tortoises & The Elephant – 1 min 48secs


Flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat, French horn in F and bassoon (or contrabassoon)


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Camille Saint Sans (1835 – 1921) was a French composer, conductor, organist, pianist and teacher. He is best know for several pieces, his 2nd piano concerto, the 1st cello concerto, Danse Macabre, Samson and Delilah, his 3rd symphony (the organ symphony) and the Carnival of the Animals.

This quintet is based on parts of the well known suite of pieces, The Carnival of the Animals, composed in 1886 for several of his pupils (which included Gabriel Faure). Whilst some pieces of the Carnival would be inappropriate for arrangement to wind quintet, the three pieces that make up this suite, work very well. These three are arranged so that the bassoon takes the major part of the theme for each piece, ably supported by the other four member of the quintet. It has to be said though, that the Elephant is actually best played on contrabassoon*. This is part 2, The Tortoise and the Elephant.

*Tradition has it that all bass instruments are given names. A good friend has named her tuba, ‘Richard’, another calls his string bass, ‘Elsa’, as it has a lion’s head as the scroll at the top of the instrument and my contrabassoon was named ‘Charlie’ by the pupils at Five Valley Music Centre.

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