Bizet: Carmen Great Recordings of the Century
|New from||Used from|
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
As remastered for EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series, this classic 1959 Carmen sounds marginally better than its previous silver disc incarnation. Tape hiss is reduced, but without any compromise in residual overtones. A/B comparisons also tipped the scales in favor of the present reissue for newfound clarity and character among the lower-pitched instruments and the choral forces. Like many conductors of his generation, Beecham viewed Carmen as grand opera, instead of opera comique, and opted for the once-ubiquitous, now-discredited Guirard recitatives. But the great conductor's ebullient pacing and light-handed orchestral balancing galvanizes his splendid cast to idiomatic heights. Victoria de los Angeles gets under the skin of the complex title role as few mezzos have--so much so that it is easy to take for granted her alluring timbre and meticulous musicianship. Nicolai Gedda's ardent and alive Don José is vocally fresher but a tad less insightful than his 1964 remake partnering Callas. Well sung but less individually portrayed are Ernst Blanc's Escamillo and Janine Michaeau's Micaela. Carmen sets of more recent vintage offer more authentic presentations of Bizet's text, to be sure. Yet Beecham's theatrical flair still burns brightly and will enrich Carmen lovers who have yet to experience this delightful, ageless recording. --Jed Distler
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Wouldn't it be great to have a drink with these guys?
A fantastic performance well preserved for future generations.
Seven stars !!!
Victoria de los Angeles leads
an intuitive Beecham interpretation
which was lovingly
transferred and remastered at
EMI London from the 1959 or 1960 master tapes.
BRAVO EVERYBODY. This is how it's done.
Mike Brydalski Buffalo New York
Remember Lana Clarkson,Syd Barrett, and John Barrett
The other parts are very well sung as well. Michaeu as Michaela is utterly moving. When the 'parles moi de ma mere' ends I always wish it would last a little more, just to hear the perfect collaboration between Michaeu and Gedda. Ernest Blanc is good, no more no less, as Escamillo, bringing the so oftenly missing french style to his part, putting forth the caracter as a kind of stupid oneway-mind, very selfconfident indeed.
Beecham then, how does he handle the score? Well, he certainly brings forth the elegance & the passion, the wit & the tragedy. There is never a boring moment from the orchestra, and the underlaying thrill of the score is always present. Many are the times when I at the end at a certain piece wishes it to last just a little longer, because it feels so right. I definately think that this is the best conducted Carmen I've ever heard.
The sound also is good, mostly in the aspect of the balance between singers and orchestra, which is perfect. The sound itself is a little old but clear enough, a lot better than on the original LP-set, since it's been elaborately digitally remastered.
Since I like Carmen (on record) better with recitatives, I don't mind the Guiraud's used here.
Compared to other sets, I consider this is an over all winner. It's strongest competitors, and these are strong ones indeed, I think are the old Karajan set with Price and Corelli (RCA), and maybe the Abbado set with Berganza & Domingo (DG). What both of these sets misses is french style, the former being very italian in style, although bewitchingly sung. I think that Karajan's sounds very much like a performance of songnumbers more than a theatrical whole. The Abbado set has a unmoving but extremely beautiful sung Carmen in Berganza, and a very powerful Don José in Domingo, but unfortunately little else when looking at the other roles. As I said, these are very good sets, but this Beecham, now at this low price, is the most french (and spanish) perfomance, with a cast and conductor perfectly matching each other, they all go for the same goal, and they succeed! I can't recommend it enough.
Nicolai Gedda is in excellent voice, even more so than on the Carmen he did with Maria Callas several years later. Wonderfully controlled, yet passionate and stylistic singing ala George Thill. Blanc is wonderful as Escamillo, yet I prefer Massard. Beecham is my favourite conductor for Carmen together with Maazel. Every opera-collection is incomplete without this! A+++++++++++