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Bizet: Carmen Suite No. 1 / L'Arlesienne Suites 1 & 2, Sir Thomas Beecham Conducting French National Radio Orchestra & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

G. p. miller |

Though i have always liked the bizet symphony in c

Over the years i have managed to acquire 3 examples of the l'arlesienne suites, one lp and 2 cds with different conductors and orchestras. it was inadvertent; they happened to be included with other music i wanted. though i have always liked the bizet symphony in c, the suites never moved me much. it was while enlarging my library of performances by thomas beecham that i discovered this recording. the symphony in c performed by beecham and the royal philharmonic here is one of the better i have heard, but it is the suites which are an especially pleasant surprise. one of the problems i have had with other recording of the suites is that the conductors often seemed to be trying to make them as 'weighty' as a beethoven symphony. here, beecham has the strings playing crisply, well-articulated, yet lush -- while avoiding the brahmsian 'muddiness' i have encountered on so many other performances. the woodwinds on this recording simply step out and sing, and i enjoy the bassoon's 'presence' here especially. in addition, the recorded sound and stereo image of this 1960s recording is very fine. suddenly these suites are not dry, academic exercises for orchestra, but lovely and compelling pieces of music