(featuring the l'Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion (France), conducted by the redoubtable Sir Thomas Beecham)
To call Georges Bizet’s (1838-75) work, featured on this album, his “Symphony No.1”, is perhaps a misnomer, as he in fact wrote no others, although he frequently referred to his Suite Roma as “my Symphony”, plus he tried and failed to compose two other symphonies, while a student.
Bizet came strongly under the influence of his fellow-French composer, Charles Gounod, during his time as a student. Gounod commissioned the youngster, to make a piano reduction of his own Symphony No.1 in D, and it does seem that Bizet’s only official Symphony, was closely modelled on Gounod’s.
By a curious quirk of fate, Bizet’s Symphony has become a regular – and indeed, deserved - piece in modern concert life, whereas Gounod’s has shrunk into obscurity !
Side One : Symphony in C, by Bizet :-
a) I Allegro vivo b) II Adagio c) III Allegro vivace d) IV Allegro vivace.
Although Edouard Lalo was a contemporary of Bizet's - indeed fifteen years Georges' senior -, Lalo did not achieve national recognition, until the year of Bizet's untimely passing : 1875, namely with his first great work, the "Symphonie Espagnole" for solo violin & orchestra (the title of said work being an obvious nod to his mixed French / Spanish ancestry).
Lalo certainly could boast a certain, very renowned supporter of his music, namely Claude Debussy ; the legendary Frenchman was actually ejected from the Paris Opera Theatre in 1882, for making such a demonstration in favour of Lalo's music for a ballet! It was shortly after this somewhat-boisterous, Debussy episode, that Lalo completed his Symphony in G minor.
With a reminiscence of Johannes Brahms at the start, and a smattering of Schumann elsewhere, the soundly-based German technique served Lalo with a foundation, upon which he created a work of distinctive character, a further reminder of his late flowering, creative talent.
Side Two : Symphony in G minor, by Lalo :-
a) I Andante - Allegro non troppo b) II Vivace c) Adagio d) IV Allegro.
Records graded visually to RRPG grades (record/sleeve) EX-/EX.