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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: Complete Orchestral Music
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
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