Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leisurely and affectionate in the Suites, fleet and fluid in the Symphony, 1 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Bizet: Symphony in C / L'Arlesienne Suites 1 & 2 (Audio CD)
Beecham had an affinity with French music and his treatment of both the symphony and the suites here oozes charm and delicacy - what could be more Gallic and refined than his tripping account of the minuet in Suite no.1? He then moves into the most tender and restrained Adagietto you could wish. The slightly thin stereo sound does not always do complete justice to the RPO strings, but how beautifully they and especially the woodwind caress this music. It is possible to deliver this music with more drive and propulsion, but how sweetly Beecham lingers over the pastoral interlude for flutes and oboes in the carillon, transporting us into a gentler, Arcadian world, then seamlessly swells into the mini-finale. At first listening, I thought I could do with a bit more bite in the opening movement of the second suite, but it is after all called a "Pastorale" and I trust Beecham's instincts and so it proved as he eased into the Moorish dance with its light, distant tambourines. Beecham easily encompasses the grander aspirations and denser orchestration of the Intermezzo without becoming portentous and the saxophone is a delight, as are the harp, flute and saxophone once more in the Minuet that Guiraud cunningly lifted from Act 3 of Bizet's "La Jolie fille de Perth". The Farandole is appropriately sonorous and stately, entwining with the "Marcho dei Rei" from the Prelude and building to a splendid climax.

As has often been remarked, l'Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Franšaise is not as polished an outfit as the RPO but they play with verve and commitment, watery horns, grainy woodwind and all. Beecham draws out all the sprightly bounce and élan of this little miracle of a symphony, sounding closer in age to the 17 year-old-composer rather than the octogenarian he was when he recorded this piece in 1959.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Sep 2012 21:28:03 BDT
waldorin says:
A great performance, I agree, but, unfortunately this recording, unlike most other Beecham recordings, has a good deal of distortion and this is not entirely due to it's age. In no way the fault of Sir Thomas or the excellent orchestra, but entirely that of EMI, who with the modern technical means at its disposal could certainly have done something about that before re-issuing the recording.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 21:53:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 21:53:51 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Waldorin, I can't say I really noticed but I will have another listen to check my response.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2012 14:02:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Sep 2012 23:08:49 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Well, I did re-listen and I cannot say I hear anything untoward or unpleasant about the stereo sound from 1956 and 1959, a little paperiness apart. Lawrance Collingwood was the artistic producer for the suites and he never presided over anything substandard as far as I am aware, so I'm afraid I cannot agree with you.
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