Following Ned Rorem's debatable dictum "a symphony is whatever you call it," José Serebrier has cobbled together a glorified suite of 12 scenes from Bizet's opera and dubbed it Carmen Symphony, for lack of a more impressive title. Instead of reworking the material in a developmental form, or just weaving the themes together in a continuous movement, Serebrier has made a few changes in orchestration and the ordering of numbers, but left the suite format unchanged. His arrangements are novel in places -- note the saxophone solo in the "Habanera," and the substitution of trombone for trumpet in the "Toreador Song" -- but the work overall is not substantially different than the two famous Carmen Suites that Serebrier wishes to replace. To avoid tedious comparisons, he does not provide those pieces as filler, but instead leads the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in the two suites from Bizet's L'Arlésienne. While their performance of the Carmen Symphony is vigorous and appealing, the players respond rather indifferently to the L'Arlésienne suites, as if giving them a dry read-through. Worse still, the lackluster recording does nothing to enhance the orchestra's sound. Despite the attraction of Bizet's wonderful melodies, listeners may dismiss this curious disc without qualms.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|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)|
|Carmen Symphony (after Bizet)|