Although many listeners will have been introduced to Georges Bizet (1838–1875) through his wellloved 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 orchestral 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.
“you can’t help regretting he never completed his religious drama on the death, burial and resurrection of Lazarus, so original and forward-looking is it — ironically, more dramatic than any of the works with which he strove to achieve success in the theatre.” Sunday Times, 2nd February 2014