Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875) 

More Symphony in C Major / Ansermet (2012) 


A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This London pressing of Ansermet’s 1961 recording has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. The Symphony in C, which takes up the whole of side one, is BIG and LIVELY, which is just the kind of sound that makes us swoon here at Better Records. Live music IS big and lively, so why shouldn’t the best records be? The bottom end has real power on this copy, the way live music does.

We like our recordings to have as many Live Music qualities as possible, and those qualities really come through on a record such as this when reproduced on the full-range speaker system we use.

It’s precisely this kind of big, rich sound that makes audiophiles prize Decca-London recordings above those of virtually any other label, and here, unlike in so many areas of audio, we are fully in agreement.

The second movement has a sublimely gorgeous oboe part you must hear. The whole side is wonderfully spacious, with real depth. The sound of the 1961 tape must be truly magical. If you don’t know why we revere the Golden Age of Classical Recordings — 1954 to 1969 or so — buy this record.

Side One

A++. Mid-hall perspective, with tremendous depth and width to the stage. Quite a lively performance from Ansermet and the Suisse Romande too. If you love to hear sweetly textured strings in a large-scale orchestral recording, this should be just the record for you! A bit less congestion in the loudest passages and this side would have been White Hot. Still, so rich and big it’s almost not worth faulting.

Side Two

A++ again, very big and open in a fairly reverberant hall — the reproduction of three-dimensional space is really something on this side. The overall sound is tonally a bit dark, so we took points off for that and ended up at A++.

And the music on this side is a lot of fun!

This is a superb Romantic composition in every way. Bizet wrote music that belongs in any serious music collection; there’s certainly a great deal more to his canon than Carmen.

Wikipedia Commentary and Background

The Symphony in C is an early work by the French composer Georges Bizet. According to Grove’s Dictionary, the symphony “reveals an extraordinarily accomplished talent for an 17-year-old student, in melodic invention, thematic handling and orchestration.”

Bizet started work on the symphony on 29 October 1855, four days after turning 17, and finished it roughly a month later. It was written while he was studying at the Paris Conservatoire under the composer Charles Gounod, and was evidently a student assignment. Bizet showed no apparent interest in having it performed or published, and while he used certain material from the symphony in later works, the piece was never played in his lifetime.

There is no mention of the work in Bizet’s letters, and it was unknown to his earlier biographers. His widow, Geneviève Halévy (1849–1926), gave the manuscript to Reynaldo Hahn, who left it along with other papers to the archives of the conservatory library, where it was found in 1933 by Jean Chantavoine.Soon thereafter, Bizet’s first British biographer Douglas Charles Parker (1885–1970) showed the manuscript to the conductor Felix Weingartner, who led the first performance in Basel, Switzerland on 26 February 1935.

The symphony was immediately hailed as a youthful masterpiece on a par with Felix Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written at about the same age, and quickly became part of the standard Romantic repertoire.

Within a short time of its publication, the work had been widely performed. The musicologist John W. Klein, who attended its London premiere, found the work “enchanting” and “charming,” a view that has been generally echoed since.

Although a student assignment, many musicologists find the symphony shows a precocious grasp of harmonic language and design, a sophistication which has invited comparisons with Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Rossini, and Beethoven.


Side One

Symphony In C Major –

First Movement: Allegro
Second Movement: Adagio
Third Movement: Allegro Vivace
Fourth Movement: Allegro Vivace

Side Two

Jeux D’Enfants-Petite Suite D’Orchestre –

Marche (Trompette Et Tambour)
Berceuse (La Poupée)
Impromptu (La Toupie)
Duo (Petit Mari, Petite Femme)
Galop (Le Bal)

La Jolie Fille De Perth-Suite –

Prélude; Sérénade; Marche; Danse Bohémienne