Bernard Haitink / Edo de Waart

Bizet: Symphony, Jeux d'enfants; Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3

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This Philips Eloquence reissue features three nineteenth century French works in accurate performances of sufficient musicality, though with less than terrific sound quality. Georges Bizet's Symphony in C major and the "Petite Suite" from Jeux d'enfants, Op. 22, are played confidently and with clear details in these 1977 performances by Bernard Haitink with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, though the slightly fuzzy analog sound deprives the orchestra of a clean edge. Since these works really need pristine sound to show their transparent textures and light counterpoint to best advantage, these recordings are only adequate, despite the apparent grace and charm of the playing. The recording of Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," performed by Jean Guillou and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, under Edo de Waart, is enjoyable for its skillful playing and is much clearer than the previous selections; the shallow early digital sound of this 1984 recording prevents the music from being truly vibrant and resonant. Spatial relationships are almost negligible, so the organ, pianos, and orchestra seem to occupy the same mid-ground, as if mixed down to the same level. This less-than-sparkling album might be all right for listeners who aren't fussy about reproduction, but audiophiles will find they can do much better with later, all-digital recordings of all three works.

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