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Classical - Released October 13, 2017 | Naxos

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The two suites adapted from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen and the two derived from his incidental music for Alphonse Daudet's play L'Arlésienne are concert staples, and they owe their enduring popularity to their unforgettable melodies and appealing orchestration. This 2017 Naxos CD presents Bizet's own L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1, which he assembled after the play failed, and it became one of his earliest successes; the remaining suites were arranged by Bizet's friend Ernest Guiraud, who composed the recitatives for Carmen and was instrumental in promoting Bizet's music after his death in 1875. Pablo González leads the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in these engaging performances, and the liveliness of the playing and the vividness of the recorded sound make the CD a delight to hear. Sample track eight to hear the infectious Habanera, one of the most famous tunes from Carmen, and try track 20 for the Farandole, perhaps the best-known excerpt from L'Arlésienne. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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This 1977 recording of Carmen was based on a production from the Edinburgh Festival and includes most of the cast from that production with the exception of Ileana Cotrubas as Micaëla and Sherrill Milnes as Escamillo. Claudio Abbado conducts the London Symphony Orchestra, which plays with crisp precision and vitality. The evaluation of any performance of Carmen is complicated by the variety of editions available, the primary ones being the traditional version that uses recitatives set to music by Ernst Guiraud after the composer's death and the 1964 Fritz Oeser edition that uses the original spoken recitatives, but that reintroduces music Bizet discarded before the premiere. Most conductors using the spoken dialogue omit some or all of the discarded music, but Abbado includes it, and the result feels choppy and uneven, particularly in the first act. That effect is exacerbated by Abbado's performance. His tempos are frequently eccentrically slow or fast, without any apparent rationale, and he doesn't convey a convincing dramatic through-line or the sense of inevitable musical momentum that drives the opera. There are many effective moments, some lovely and some thrilling, but they don't add up to a convincing whole. That being said, the performances of the principals are often exceptional. Teresa Berganza's sultry, believably natural Carmen is beautifully nuanced, dramatically riveting, and musically ravishing. Plácido Domingo is a troubled, powerful Don José (pronounced here the Spanish rather than the French way) and his singing is lyrically intense. Cotrubas gives Micaëla exceptional warmth, even sensuality, and makes her a more interesting character than is usual. As Escamillo, Milnes is the least effective of the principals, sounding somewhat boomy and stiff. The sound alternates between the cavernous and the distant sides of an ideal ambience, and there is sometimes intentional but distracting crowd chatter under the spoken dialogue. In spite of the album's drawbacks, Berganza's vivid performance makes this a recording that should interest fans of the opera. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 3, 2015 | Naxos

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Apart from the opera Carmen, the Symphony in C major, and the suites of incidental music for the play L'Arlésienne, the music of Georges Bizet tends toward the obscure, despite its great tunefulness and obvious technical competence. For this CD, Jean-Luc Tingaud and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra present two of the more significant minor works, the Roma Symphony and the Petite Suite, along with several shorter pieces that are infrequently played. The Overture in A major and the Marche funèbre in B minor are neglected because they are early works, though they are no worse than many French orchestral pieces of the time, and Bizet's knack for writing memorable melodies lifts them above mediocrity. The jaunty Patrie Overture has had a better track record with modern audiences and is often encountered as filler on recordings and on pops concerts. An orchestral version of five piano pieces from the collection Jeux d'enfants, the Petite Suite is usually paired on recordings with the Symphony in C major because of its similar lightheartedness. In the end, Roma is the most substantial work offered here, and Bizet's flair for dramatic scene painting and dark passions is on full display, anticipating the volatile atmosphere of Carmen. The performances of all the selections are first-rate, and this album is recommended for anyone who is curious about Bizet's less familiar music. © TiVo
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Opera - Released March 1, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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Full Operas - Released May 2, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera - Released September 19, 2014 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released October 14, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released September 6, 2010 | Warner Classics

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Paavo Jarvi conducts the Orchestre de Paris in a couple of Bizet favorites, plus one of his less well-known orchestral works. Bizet never envisioned the Symphony in C being performed, much less becoming his most popular work besides Carmen (which he also never knew would be as popular as it is) and other stage works. The Petite Suite, drawn from five selections from the piano duet suite Jeux d'enfants, is not as familiar, but it is still heard far more often than the final work on this recording, Roma. Roma was a disappointment for Bizet. It began as a symphony representing Italian cities he had visited. It was revised a couple of times, and performed in different versions, but it never really gelled into a full-fledged symphony. Hearing it next to the other two pieces, it just isn't as inherently appealing as them. There are some charming melodies, but nothing really memorable, and their development isn't very organic or necessarily interesting. The Scherzo, the first movement Bizet completed and liked the best, is the most successful. It has more of the Bizet playfulness that we're used to. Jarvi and the Orchestre try to bring some vitality to Roma, and it comes off as OK, but nothing more. The Symphony and the Suite are ingrained in the French repertoire, so the orchestra knows and performs them nearly flawlessly. However, that leaves it up to the conductor to make the reading distinctive. The way Jarvi seems to choose to do this is to rush through the music of the fast movements. To those who know the music more than just in passing, especially the Symphony, it often seems that there isn't room for breath or enough of a deceleration at the ends of phrases. It's a decent interpretation otherwise, and to those who aren't as familiar with the music, it will suit. © TiVo
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Opera - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released October 11, 2010 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Choc de Classica - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released April 1, 1973 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released January 1, 1983 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released April 8, 2013 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released January 1, 1988 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released October 28, 2013 | Past Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released March 15, 2013 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released March 14, 2011 | Warner Classics

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography