Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

More Symphony in C Major / Ansermet (2011) 

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

This Decca Ace of Diamonds 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 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.

We like our recordings to have as many live qualities as possible, and those qualities really come through on a record like 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 virtually any other label, and here, unlike in so many areas of audio, we are fully in agreement.

This is a Top Title in every way and comes highly recommended. Bizet wrote music that belongs in any serious music collection; there’s certainly a great deal more to his canon than Carmen.

Side One

A++. A bit less smear and this side would have been White Hot.

Side Two

A++ again, but with CONDITION PROBLEMS — the first 1/8″ has a light to moderate repeating tic, which will last less than a minute.

There’s more top end here, and the bottom is big like side one, but it’s a bit darker in the midrange. It’s rich and open and spacious.

And the music is fun!

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.

Overall Sonic Grade:

Side One – A++ 
Side Two – A++

Vinyl Grade:

1) Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus with a noisy edge. There are two pops 1/8″ in. 
2) Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus with a noisy edge. There is a repeating tick / stitch for the first 1/8″.

Cover Grade: 8+ out of 10

TRACK LISTING

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