The disc of Bizet's best-known orchestral music is split between two conductors and two orchestras. Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony take on the two L'Arlésienne Suites while Jean Martinon and the Orchestre National de l'ORTF take on his Jeux d'Enfants and Symphony in C major. Of the two halves, the Abbado/LSO is less successful. While Abbado's conducting is sharp and incisive and the LSO's playing is crisp and clear, they seem to have little feeling for the spirit of Bizet's music: the lightness, the energy, the wit, and the charm of the suites seems to have entirely escaped them in these dutiful but not beautiful performances. Martinon and the French orchestra's half, on the other hand, is only marginally less unsuccessful. While they seem to have a strong feeling for Bizet's bright and colorful scores, Martinon lacks the drive and balance and the ORTF lacks the cogency and accuracy to make it sing. While neither half is anything like awful, neither half is anything more than mediocre, and this disc could only be recommended to listeners who are dedicated to Abbado or Martinon, but not especially interested in Bizet. In both recordings, despite the disparities in performers and venues, Deutsche Grammophon's stereo sound is strangely close and stifled.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|L' Arlésienne, suite for orchestra No. 1, from the incidental music|
|L' Arlésienne, suite for orchestra No. 2, from the incidental music (arranged by Ernest Guirard)|
|Petite Suite, pieces (5) for orchestra (orchestration of Jeux d'enfants Nos. 6, 3, 2, 11, 12)|
|Symphony in C major ("No. 1")|