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Bizet: Symphony In C, L'arlesienne Suites / Delacote, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog #: 28480   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BIZET Symphony in C. L’arlésienne: Suite No. 1; Suite No. 2 Jacques Delacôte, cond; Royal PO ROYAL PHILHARMONIC MASTERWORKS 28480 (68:23)

What’s this? It says here, under L’arlésienne Suite No. 2 , “(Band) 11. Menuet (Solo Flute: John Snowden).” Nothing wrong with that, of course. But under Symphony in C, Band 2 is listed simply as “Andante.” Surely, there Read more are few orchestral pieces, other than concertos, as dependent on the contribution of a soloist as Bizet’s youthful symphony, but I search in vain for a name, and mutter, “Oboists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your anonymity!” To be sure, Snowden plays his part exquisitely, but so does our nameless oboist—and the other members of the Royal Philharmonic under the sympathetic leadership of conductor Delacôte.

One wonders how Bizet would have responded to this disc. After composing his Symphony at the tender age of 17, he put it into a drawer and apparently forgot about it. RPO’s notes speculate that it may have come too close for comfort to its obvious model, Gounod’s First Symphony. Eventually discovered and premiered 60 years after Bizet’s death, it has won a place in the repertoire, while Gounod’s symphony has lapsed into near obscurity. Bizet assembled the First L’arlésienne Suite from his incidental music, composed in 1872, for Alphonse Daudet’s melodrama. The play was a flop, but Daudet loved the music. The posthumous Second Suite is mostly the work of Bizet’s friend Ernest Guiraud, who even imported a movement (the Menuet, in fact) from Bizet’s earlier opera, La jolie fille de Perth . So Bizet would be hearing most of the music on the disc for the first time. My expectation is that he would have been pleased.

The contents of this release, unfortunately, put Delacôte in direct competition with the legendary recording by Sir Thomas Beecham for EMI. While I can’t say that he displaces Beecham from his hallowed spot, Delacôte need not be embarrassed by the comparison. For listeners who are interested in the Symphony without the suites, I am fond of Stokowski’s version, made three months before his death at age 95, but sounding as youthful as the teen-aged composer. If you are interested in the L’arlésienne music without the Symphony, I would steer you toward Michel Plasson’s recording of the complete incidental music (not the suites) on EMI. Meanwhile, Delacôte’s splendidly recorded disc will not disappoint you.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Symphony in C major by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; France 
Length: 29 Minutes 25 Secs. 
L'arlésienne: Suite no 1 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
Length: 19 Minutes 2 Secs. 
L'arlésienne: Suite no 2 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Length: 17 Minutes 49 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Audiophile collection February 16, 2013 By William Schneider (Yaphank, NY) See All My Reviews "This is a well done series of works and I would recommend the entire series.The recordings are uniformly well done and the playing of ensamble is wonderful .I think that all would be happy with these cd,s especially at this price and for that matter at full retail.Well done" Report Abuse
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