BIZET: Symphony in C; Jeux D’Enfants; La Jolie Fille De Perth – Suisse Romande Orchestra / Ernest Ansermet – HDTT

by | Dec 27, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BIZET: Symphony in C; Jeux D’Enfants; La Jolie Fille De Perth – Suisse Romande Orchestra / Ernest Ansermet – HDTT 96K/24bit FLAC (or HQCD, CD, or DVD-R); 49:42 [] ****:

From a London 4-track tape, HDDT has issued a Bizet program recorded in Victoria Hall, Geneva between 8 October and 24 November 1960, produced and engineered by Decca stalwarts James Walker and Roy Wallace. The original Decca LP releases were SXL2275 (stereo) and LXT5634 (mono).

Georges Bizet (1838-1875) wrote his sole complete symphony in 1855 at the tender age of 17, though it remained unheard until its first performance under Felix Weingartner in 1935.  Walter Goehr and the LPO made the first recording on 26 November 1937 (one side redone on 4 January 1938) on plum label HMV 78s (C 2986-2989) with Walter Legge producing. The US issue on Victor Musical Masterpiece Set DM-721 notes the work as “Symphony No. 1”, Bizet’s other symphony, “Roma”, being the second. The numbering hasn’t caught on. Many thanks to Bryan Bishop for making his transfer of this pioneering recording available; Leon Goossens’s oboe playing in the second movement is quite beautiful and remains a fine example of his fine artistry.

Since then, its charm and subtle writing have ensured a firm position in the orchestral repertoire, and many recordings have been made.  Ansermet’s Suisse Romande Orchestra is on very good form here, the recording coming over as thoroughly rehearsed and unaffectedly musical.  Ansermet never went for cheap effects and much of his recorded output has remained much loved in the catalogue. Notable are the light airy textures and the fine oboe playing in the slow movement, though the distinctive tone may not be everyone’s taste. The last movement isn’t as urbane as Beecham’s, for example, and the playing doesn’t hold a candle to the Concertgebouw’s under Bernard Haitink for its delicacy. Nonetheless, this recording is a fine testimony to Ansermet’s art, and the two suites are superbly done, with lovely bassoon playing in La Jolie Fille’s Petite Marche.  As far as I know there are but two high resolution releases of this delightful symphony, this one and another on Membran, with the RPO under Jacques Delacote – which I have not yet heard.

The tape has been has processed with Weiss digital software and hardware and Symposium vibration control gear and the results are available as custom burned CD, HQCD (1x burning rate on optimum blanks), and high resolution DVD-V. In addition, and auditioned for this review,  lossless FLAC files are available for download at either 24/96 or 24/192 resolutions, ideal for streaming through a high quality system or for burning to DVD. In any event, the CD cover and liner notes about Bizet and Ansermet can be downloaded from HDTT’s website. [And are exactly the correct size, with printing on the spines, to slip into a blank jewel box, which then fits right in with the rest of your CDs…Ed.]

I burned two DVD-As via Cirlinca’s excellent and easy to use “DVD Audio Solo” to compare 24/96 and 24/192 resolutions, and the higher demonstrates just that bit extra through headphones especially in resolving the ambience. However, both sounded very well indeed, a credit to Bob Witrak’s transfer from the original four-track tape and to Decca’s original production team.

— Peter Joelson

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