Five essential works by Bizet

We choose the best pieces by the theatrical genius

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Five essential works by Bizet
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Symphony in C

Composed by Bizet when aged 17 and only rediscovered in 1935. Light and almost Schubertian in style, the slow movement includes a haunting oboe lament.

Recommended recording:
Les Siècles/François Xavier Roth
Mirare MIR 036

 

 

Songs

Bizet wrote his songs in the days before they had been elevated to ‘high art’, but they are unfailingly charming and include such classics as the sultry ‘Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe’.

Recommended recording:
Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Hyperion CDA 66976

 

 

Jeux d’enfants

Best-known in its orchestral guise, the two piano version gives a more complete collection of these affectionate vignettes of children at play. Great fun.

Recommended recording:
Tamara Granat, Daniel Propper
Dux 0739

 

 

L’Arlesienne

Bizet’s incidental music to Daudet’s stage play, The Girl From Arles, perfectly captures its Provence setting; his imaginative orchestration includes an early pre-jazz use of saxophone.

Recommended recording:
Choeur de l’Opéra de Lyon; Les Musiciens du Louvre, Grenoble/Marc Minkowski
Naïve V 5130

 

 

Carmen

Easily Bizet’s single most famous work, his deft characterisation and the sheer tunefulness of his opera sounds as fresh as ever.

Recommended recording:
Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers; Orchestre de Paris/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Classics for Pleasure 367 6962

 

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