A few years ago, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France joined up with an entire book of animated creatures to perform the classic Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) by Camille Saint-Saëns.
Video of the performance, in 14 movements that represent different animals — a lion, a turtle, hens and roosters, elephants, fish, kangaroos, and more — was then packaged into an iPad app. It has become one of our favorites, not only due of the mix of animation and live action, but also because of how much time we get to spend with musicians playing beautiful music with their instruments. The video above is the grand finale. Highly recommended, along with these two newer apps from the same label: Pierre et le loup and Les 4 saisons d’Antoine.
Watch more videos with orchestras and more Saint-Saëns.
"Poet of animation" Norman McLaren’s Spook Sport (1939), set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre (1874), which has a fascinating back story:
It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based on an old French superstition. In 1874, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin….
According to legend, “Death” appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance their dance of death for him while he plays his fiddle (here represented by a solo violin). His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.
You can find our favorite McLaren here: Boogie Doodle (1948), or check out Oskar Fischinger’s Optical Poem.