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Bizet: Symphony in C / L'Arlesienne Suites 1 & 2

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, French National Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Thomas Beecham
  • Composer: Georges Bizet
  • Audio CD (7 Feb. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B00003ZKRD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Sir Thomas Beecham, born near Liverpool, has been described as “the best conductor of French music the French never had”. His recording of Carmen remains a point of reference, and this programme of orchestral works by Bizet exemplifies his elegance and panache. Beecham conducts both the orchestra he founded in 1946, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française.

Amazon.co.uk

More long-cherished friends from the EMI archives, sounding fresher than ever in these latest digital remasterings. The two L'Arlesienne suites were set down at Abbey Road Studios during just one September day in 1956. They remain, quite simply, among the most treasurable examples of Thomas Beecham's inimitable art that we have (the disc would be worth acquiring for the indelible, achingly poignant "Adagietto" from the first suite alone). What seemingly boundless reserves of tender poetry, intimate delicacy and zestful swagger Sir Thomas lavishes on Bizet's evergreen music. An especial word of praise, too, for an unforgettably personable and charismatic contribution from the RPO's superb roster of woodwind principals. Glowing affection and tingling spontaneity are also hallmarks of the famous 1959 recording of the Symphony in C. True, the playing of the French National Radio Orchestra doesn't always match the RPO's in terms of poise, but Beecham's gloriously warm-hearted interpretation is an absolute joy from start to finish. As should be abundantly clear by now, this is a very special CD. --Andrew Achenbach

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By John Austin HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Jun. 2001
Format: Audio CD
When Beecham came to Australia, one cartoonist depicted him as conducting with a magic wand. Listen to him conducting these colourful Bizet orchestral items and you'll know why. In the "L'Arlesienne" suites, the melodic lines, especially for woodwinds, are beautifully phrased, there is amazing gusto in the Farandole, and the string playing in the Adagietto is like gossamer. The Bizet symphony was recorded in Paris during Beecham's last series of recording sessions. The 80 year old conductor works his magic here too, identifying and eliciting all the freshness of the 17 year old composer's symphony. These are performances to treasure for all time.
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This disc compiled from stereo recordings made in 1956 and 1959 clearly demonstrates Beecham's unique style of conducting and making music. The recordings themselves, although showing the superiority of the RPO over their French counterparts, is still heard to better effect in this new remastering than on previous issues.

The symphony is played by the French orchestra and was chosen because of its sonic characteristics especially as regards the narrow bored horns. It betrays a certain wiriness of string tone and the horns, with their vibrato and narrow bore tend to sound rather euphonium like. Nevertheless, Beecham enables them to play with a particular swagger and dancing gait, even at his fairly steady speeds. There is a gentility too in the phrasing used. All of these features of course, will be well known to collectors of Beecham's recordings as will this compilation that has been presented before but not with this remastering.

The L'Arlesienne suites are of the same quality of phrasing, particularly from the leaders of the woodwind section, and the technical superiority of the RPO as an orchestra must also be recognised. Beecham had collected a hand-picked group of section leaders for this orchestra and they led, not just the woodwind, but also the brass.

Barenboim reputedly said, listening to these recordings when preparing his own and quoting these sleeve notes, 'Perhaps we should pack up and go home.' I also own that recording and I am very glad that he did not pack up and go home until at least he had finished his own version. Nevertheless it is easy to see what he meant.

This is one of those recordings which deserves the description of a Great Recording of the Century' and on that basis alone it surely must warrant serious consideration as a purchase, particularly in this new mastering.
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By FAMOUS NAME VINE VOICE on 20 Mar. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first heard snippets of this on Classic FM - the only Radio Station I listen to - and can still sell me music, and before they said who it was, I immediately recognised this as 'Bizet' - even though I had only ever heard his fabulous Opera 'Carmen'! There are 'essences' of Carmen here - particularly in the trademark of minor crescendos creeping up and building in the background of the main music.

Not a lot is heard of Bizet - apart from the aforementioned Opera which everybody recognises and likes - even if they claim not to like opera or classical music per se. This is a selection of lesser known pieces which will delight any fan of his great opera. It's a really beautiful CD and it's difficult to pick a favourite piece, but 'Menuet' is pretty lovely!

Bizet is definitely one of the world's greatest composers - perhaps not by volume - but certainly on melody. About the only other composer I could recognise so instantly was the late great John Barry - though worlds apart.
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Format: Audio CD
My copy cost £1 from the discard shelf at my local public library and I bought it not knowing its legendary status.

It was only after I listened to it - and was delighted by both the performances and the amazingly good sound quality - that I did the research and discovered what a find I had.

Strongly recommended.
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I remember L'Arlesienne being the title music for the schools broadcast on Radio Singapore in the mid-1960's. Memory can be fickle, but I feel this version, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham is the one they used. It was recorded in 1956, and the CD is in EMI's "Great recordings of the century" series.

So it has great sentimental value to me, and could be to anyone else who remembers Aisha Akbar presenting the Singapore schools broadcasts.

The full track was played each day, in order to give children time to assemble in the room with the radio. There were also lessons on Radio Singapore for singing the Christmas carol based on the music.
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Everything said here so far I would have to agree with -BUT. The 'Great Recording of the Century' here is the Arlesienne music. There is a much better Beecham recording of the Symphony in C, which I think EMI may have allowed to escape its vaults onto CD very briefly. But, of course, it's in mono, which we are supposed not to want to buy. For some reason EMI could not at first record in both systems in Paris, and so it had to be done again for stereo. My gut feeling is that Warner will not be interested in reissuing it, because their computer will tell them it's in mono, and they will come down hard on any independent who proposes to do so. For anyone who knows both versions the difference is astonishing. if you come across it, even on LP,grab it.
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