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The success of Bizet’s opera Carmen has overshadowed the rest of his output, but this fascinating orchestral programme, which includes a number of seldom performed works, reveals more of his talent for writing colourful, atmospheric and melodic music. The Overture in A was Bizet’s first orchestral work and unperformed in his lifetime, while the Marche funèbre was originally the prelude to an opera about love and vengeance, now lost. The dramatic overture Patrie captures the mood following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, while the Petite suite is a set of orchestrations of movements from Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games). Conceived in Italy as a symphony, after Bizet had won the Prix de Rome, Roma occupied the composer for 11 years before the final version heard here.
“this disc offers delights aplenty, not least thanks to Jean-Luc Tingaud's stylish and alert conducting...The word that springs to mind is 'punctilio', defined by Chambers as 'exact observance of forms'. Everything is in place, nothing is rushed, even at the fastest tempo, and nothing drags at the slowest.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 *****
“Tingaud and his admirably eager and scrupulously prepared RTÉ forces do [Bizet] proud…vividly realistic sound is the icing on the cake of another irresitible bargain from this stylish partnership. More please!” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015
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Bizet: Roma & L'Arlésienne Suites Nos. 1 & 2
Vienna Colonaden Orchestra, Hans Hagen
Bizet: Symphony in C, Jeux d'Enfants & Roma
The 2010-11 season sees Paavo Järvi take up his position as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. Marking the launch of this collaboration, Virgin Classics is releasing a programme of orchestral works by Bizet, the first recording from this leading French orchestra and its Estonian-born conductor.
With the 2010-11 season, Paavo Järvi assumes his new role as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, taking over from Christoph Eschenbach, who spent 10 years with the orchestra, and following in the footsteps of figures such as Charles Munch, Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim.
To date, Järvi’s Virgin Classics recordings have focused on music by Nordic and Russian composers, and – in his recent work with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra – Mahler and Brahms. Now, with the Orchestre de Paris, he presents a programme by Bizet, a quintessentially French composer, who, as Järvi points out, receives insufficient recognition for his works beyond Carmen. The release comprises the vernal Symphony in C, written when Bizet was still a teenager, the delightful suite Jeux d’Enfants (Children’s Games) and the composer’s second symphony, Roma, a work he revised on a number of occasions, and which is rarely heard.
“Only posthumously was [the Symphony in C] hailed as a youthful masterpiece, its essential buoyancy and joie de vivre delightfully expressed in this new interpretation by Paavo Järvi” The Independent, 3rd September 2010 ***
“Two of Bizet’s most popular orchestral works are given sunny performances by the Orchestre de Paris, bringing both charm and freshness to the Symphony in C and the five pieces of Jeux d’enfants.” The Telegraph, 17th September 2010 ****
“[The Symphony] needs perfect athleticism and agility, here provided in abundance by the Orchestre de Paris under its new conductor, Paavo Järvi. The final allegro, made so memorable in Balanchine's ballet of the same name, crackles with wit.” The Observer, 26th September 2010
“There's no problem with the quality here: indeed it's excellent in every department of this traditionally underachieving orchestra, which respond to Järvi's energised conducting with much panache.” Classic FM Magazine, November 2010 ***
“Jarvi and the Orchestre de Paris's delicately shaded recording attempts a silk-purse makeover on the piglet's ear of Bizet's juvenile Symphony in C, lending lustre to the adagio, grit to the bagpipe drone of the scherzo, and Mendelssohnian fizz to the allegro vivace.” The Independent on Sunday, 10th October 2010
Bizet: Clovis et Clotilde and Roma
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Louis Frémaux: The Complete CBSO Recordings
Grande Messe des Morts, Op. 5 (Requiem)
Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9
Benvenuto Cellini Overture
La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24 (excerpts)
Les Troyens à Carthage (excerpts)
Roma, symphony for orchestra in C major
Symphony in C
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Requiem, Op. 48
Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11
Ballade in F sharp major for solo piano or piano & orchestra, Op. 19
Movement symphonique No. 1 'Pacific 231'
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21
Cello Concerto in D minor
Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102
Le Cid - Ballet music
La Vierge: Le Dernier Sommeil de la vierge (Légende sacrée)
Notturni ed Alba
Symphony No. 2
Orphée aux Enfers Overture
La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein - Overture
La Belle Helene Overture
Barbe-bleue - Overture
La Perichole: Overture
Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 'Organ Symphony'
Le carnaval des animaux
Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne
Etude en forme de valse (No. 6 from Six Études, Op. 52)
Prélude to Le Deluge Op. 45
Wedding Cake - Valse-Caprice for piano & strings, Op. 76
Allegro Appassionato in B minor Op. 43
Danse macabre, Op. 40
Coronation Te Deum
Orb and Sceptre
The Wise Virgins
This 12-CD set assembles, for the first time, all the recordings that the French conductor Louis Frémaux made (for EMI) with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra during his tenure as its Principal Conductor (1969-1978). These recordings helped to build the CBSO’s international reputation before the arrival of Simon Rattle as its Principal Conductor in 1980.
This 12-CD set joins Warner Classics’ Icon series, which pays homage to some of the greatest recording artists of the recent past. The box is devoted to the French conductor Louis Frémaux, who, from 1969 to 1978, preceded Simon Rattle as Principal Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. For the first time, it assembles all the recordings that Frémaux and the CBSO made for EMI. Over the course of the 1970s their discography played a substantial role in building the orchestra’s international reputation before the arrival of Rattle as its Principal Conductor in 1980. Indeed, such was the orchestra’s prowess in the French music favoured by Frémaux that, in 1978, Rattle described the CBSO as “the best French orchestra in the world”.
Louis Frémaux, who died aged 95 in March 2017, was born in northern France. He attended the conservatory of Valenciennes, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. Too young to join the army, he became involved in the Resistance, and at the end of the War he joined the French Foreign Legion, serving in Vietnam. In 1947 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied conducting with Louis Fourestier, going on to win the institution’s first prize for conducting in 1952. He launched his recording career with the Erato label, and a notable success was the Requiem by the Baroque composer Jean Gilles, which won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1956, the year Frémaux began his nine-year tenure as Chief Conductor of the Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra. He first conducted the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1968 and became its Principal Conductor the following year. The CBSO’s history had been somewhat chequered, despite attracting such principal conductors as Adrian Boult and Andrzej Panufnik, but Frémaux groomed the orchestra, taking it to a new level. While the team gained special renown for its performances of French repertoire, it also sustained a strong reputation in the works of modern British composers.
The vast majority of this Icon set is devoted to French music: Berlioz (notably the Grande Messe des Morts, the first recording project of the CBSO Chorus, which Frémaux established in 1973); Massenet; Bizet (including his rarely-heard symphonic suite Roma); Lalo; Saint-Saëns (including the Symphony No 3, a work closely associated with Frémaux); Fauré (the Requiem); Chabrier; Debussy; Dukas; Ravel; Ibert (whose music occupies almost an entire CD); Honegger; Poulenc (the Gloria, Piano Concerto and Les Biches) and Satie. The British-born composers featured are: Litolff; Walton (who occupies an entire CD, dominated by the two Façade suites), and John McCabe (1939-2015), whose Notturni was premiered by Frémaux and the CBSO in 1970.
Appearing for the first time on CD is a selection of arias by Leoncavallo, Puccini, Bizet, Sullivan, Lehár and Johann Strauss II, sung in English by the tenor by the Birmingham-born tenor David Hughes (1929-1972), who, before turning to opera, had enjoyed success as a popular singer; the arias are complemented by overtures by Offenbach. Other soloists appearing on the set include tenor Robert Tear, cellist Paul Tortelier and pianists John Ogdon and Cristina Ortiz.
All items in the set have been remastered from the original analogue tapes and digitized in full HD 24BIT/96kHz.
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