Bountiful Bizet from Barcelona

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

We can never have too many fine recordings of this perennially fresh music, but you’d be surprised just how few releases contain the complete Carmen and L’Arlésienne suites. Most leave something out, rearrange the order of movements, or otherwise play with what Bizet/Guiraud wrote. That makes this newcomer especially welcome: you get the full package. You’ll find the first Carmen suite suprising. It begins with the “fate” music, and ends with the movement we’re used to hearing at the start: the toreador’s march and bullfight fiesta. Between the two suites, all of the opera’s big tunes turn up, and they are played with genuine gusto here.

The same holds true for the L’Arlésienne music. Gonzáles offers an especially peppy Carillon, and a dazzlingly swift Farandole to conclude the Second Suite. There’s no rule that Spanish musicians will play Spanish music with any proprietary authenticity, especially when the Spanish music is actually French, but González and his musicians really do take to Bizet as if to the manner born–with swagger, passion, and (in those lovely bits for flute and harp) real elegance. The sonics are bold and vivid, just like the interpretations. I know, you’ve heard this stuff a million times. Well, make this a million and one.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Markevitch (Philips/Decca)

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