Although many listeners will have been introduced to Georges Bizet (1838--1875) through his well-loved operas, notably The Pearl Fishers and Carmen -- this fantastic volume celebrates his orchestral music, sometimes overlooked but entirely worthy of attention.
The collection surveys his complete body of orchestral works, taking in symphonies, suites, preludes and overtures. Fans of the dramatic compositions will not be disappointed: a large portion of the three-disc set is devoted to music inspired by or written for the stage. Two suites from Carmen are a highlight, with movements that bring to life the opera's most magical moments, from Spanish dances to the famous Toréador song and Habañera. An orchestralRead more suite based on the mature opera La Jolie Fille de Perth is also included, as are the two L'Arlésienne Suites of evocative, colourful incidental music to a play by Alphonse Daudet. Bizet's two main contributions to large-scale symphonic music are also featured: although the composer was never entirely satisfied with Roma symphony, the early Symphony in C is undoubtedly one of his masterpieces, charming and ebullient in style.
Some less well-known but equally impressive works round off this collection, which is rich in opportunities for listeners to discover the different sides of Bizet's colourful music. Enrique Bátiz, leading two internationally renowned orchestras, delivers thrilling performances, making this an indispensable and comprehensive volume.
- This 3-CD set, contains the complete orchestral music of Georges Bizet, featuring such evergreens as the Carmen and Arlésienne Suites, the endearing Jeux d'Enfants and the fresh and brilliant Symphony in C, written in his teens.
- A comprehensive survey of Bizet's complete orchestral music; the ideal way for aficionados of his operas to discover a different side of this famous French composer.
- Excellent performances by Maestro Enrique Batiz and his Mexican Orchestra, as well as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Includes booklet notes, with detailed information about each work.
R E V I W:
BIZET Carmen: Suites Nos. 1-2.1 L’Arlésienne: Suites Nos. 1-2.1 La jolie fille de Perth: Suite.1 Jeux d’enfants: Suite.1 Les pécheurs de perles: Overture.1 Patrie Overture.1 Symphony in C.2 Roma Symphony2 • Enrique Bátiz, cond; 1Mexico PO. 2Royal PO • BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94404 (3 CDs: 178:26)
While most of these works have enjoyed many recordings in various combinations on a single CD, this is one of the few sets to provide a more or less complete compilation of Bizet’s small body of purely orchestral works. In Bizet’s case “complete” is a rather elastic definition. For instance, virtually every conductor picks and chooses his own set of excerpts for suites from Carmen, and then arranges them in any order that pleases his fancy without regard to their actual order of occurrence in the opera. Some include and others exclude the L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 because (a) it was assembled and orchestrated by Ernest Giraud (who also composed the sung recitative settings for the spoken dialogue in Carmen, which remained in use for almost a century), and (b) Giraud included a piece from La jolie fille de Perth in the suite he created.
All of these recordings originally appeared on the ASV label between 1990 and 1994. This is a tempting set because it provides quite good performances at a super-budget price. Admittedly, much of this is music that takes a good deal of incompetence or sheer perversity not to do at least reasonably well, so that distinguishing good performances from great ones is a matter of subtle detail. For the most part, Bátiz discharges his duties with distinction; he obviously has an ear for the style, and always chooses sensible tempi. On occasion, he can be a bit four-square in phrasing, such as in those pieces from Carmen (the Habañera and Séguidilla, the arias of Escamillo and Michaëla) that are adaptations of arias rather than straightforward orchestral excerpts. The Patrie overture can seem a bit stodgy when compared to the blazing account on Mercury of Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony. I am also puzzled at the completely random order of the items chosen for the two Carmen suites, which makes no sense. While the Mexico Philharmonic is a quite decent orchestra, it is not a world-class ensemble, as is evident from the solo playing of the principal players, which is technically proficient but lacking in distinctive character and insight. The recorded sound is a bit distant, but otherwise fine.
The most direct competition for this set is another three-CD set, on EMI with Michel Plasson and the Toulouse Capitole Orchestra, that has everything included here except for the overture to Les pécheurs de perles and the second Carmen and L’Arlésienne suites. However, by way of compensation, it includes instead three additional rarities: a complete recording of the incidental music to L’Arlésienne in its original chamber orchestra orchestration, the Marche Funèbre, and the Overture in A Minor. It is available on CD only as an import (albeit at a budget price), or else in the recently issued 37-CD box of Plasson’s recordings of French orchestral repertoire. ArkivMusic offers it as an mp3 download; a two-CD set, minus the complete L’Arlésienne incidental music, is in print domestically. I would personally make Plasson my first choice over Bátiz; the orchestral playing and recorded sound are slightly superior, and the interpretations a degree more idiomatic. That said, this set is still a bargain for anyone desiring an easy way to fill in a gap in his or her collection of French orchestral repertoire. In 33:6 James Miller recommended a recent two-CD set on Decca Eloquence of performances by Ernest Ansermet and the L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande of all the works featured here except the Roma Symphony, the overture to Les pécheurs de perles, and some of the Carmen excerpts. EMI also has another two-CD collection of all of these works except for the Les pécheurs de perles and Patrie overtures, with a variety of conductors (Barenboim, Frémaux, Mackerras, Marriner) and orchestras. For single discs of Bizet’s most popular items—the Symphony in C and the Carmen and L’Arlésienne suites, there are the classic accounts by Beecham and Paray.
Symphony in C majorby Georges Bizet Conductor:
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1855; France
Romaby Georges Bizet Conductor:
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1860-1868; France
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Wonderful double CDSeptember 20, 2014By Paul M. (Sarasota, FL)See All My Reviews"Really like this double CD of Bizet's Complete Orchestral Works. I recommend this CD highly. Well done."Report Abuse
GREAT COLLECTIONSeptember 19, 2014By Felipe Gajate (Homestead, FL)See All My Reviews"I was very surprised by the wonderful quality of this recording of the orchestral works by Bizet, the musicians, conductor et all. A very pleasant experience you should try."Report Abuse