It's back, and it's still great
Mark McCue | Denver, CO USA | 05/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can fork over $50 or better for a vintage stereo LP of Paray's Carmen and L'Arlesienne, or you can buy this--the sound will be about the same, and it's great sound.If you're looking for the Habanera done sans soprano, forget it, because Paray doesn't do it here and never did. The Carmen Suite here is his own selection and contains only originally instrumental music. It's exciting and dramatic and beautifully recorded and presented. It also became a soundtrack for a later movie and was equally effective there.The L'Arlesienne suites are among the finest ever done on record. Paray makes them so compelling, soulful, romantic and exciting, that he actually makes you want to see a production of the play with him in the pit. Paray's wide experience and talent as an operatic practitioner takes us through all the scenic ups and downs of the plot and its characters, even though it's incidental music rather than an opera (Cilea made a beautiful one of it, too, though we don't hear it very often).The Patrie and other overtures aren't the most inspired music from the period, but Paray makes them into dramatic things quite a bit better than they intrinsically are: more than just chestnuts or joux-joux. It all comes from commitment, attention to detail, elegant presentation, and a lot of vital orchestral playing. Like most Paray disks, you'll find yourself putting it on again right away.All told, this is yet another example of Paul Paray's unmatched artistry and insight that lead us to understand why all this music and its composers are held in high regard."
Overture performances best ever
HB | Fort Mill, SC | 04/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a former high school clarinet player, I have a strong love for overtures. The three overtures on this CD are rarely played in concert and after you hear these incredible performances, you will certainly wonder why. Most recorded performances sound like recordings. There are no mistakes, no wrong notes but also very little excitement. These recordings sound like performances, with so much excitement, you will treasure these performances like few others. The orchestral playing is simply beyond belief. I can honestly say that these performances have to rank in the top 1% of all classical recordings. Most conductors today could only dream of making recordings this exciting. As for the recorded sound, it is simply perfection, clear as a bell. Mercury CDs are very hard to find. There is a reason, they are simply the best.
French 19th Century Music By A French Canadian Conductor
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 10/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Paray was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and became a prominent conductor in Detroit, conducting its symphony orchestra for a number of years. He released numerous LP's in the 50's and 60's, and these have been digitally remastered and the sound is terrific. Paray was the contemporary of Antal Dorati, a conductor whose repertoire was similar to Paray's. This music is probably the best recording of the Carmen and L'Arlesienne Suites by Georges Bizet because its conductor, who is part French understood its French background. George Bizet's Carmen was a far more popular opera than L'Arlesienne. On here, the Carmen Overture, Gyspy Song, Micaela's Aria, Habanera, Seguidilla and the Fate Theme are all stripped from any Italian influence of grand opera and is effectively played as French national music. The recording opens with what was an anthem-like musical composition La Patrie, a rare and obscure work by Bizet. Bizet's L'Arlessiene was a tragic pastoral opera and its music is still played in concert and in classical music stations on the radio, usually on CD recordings it accompanies the more famous Carmen Suite.
Another French composer who was successful was Ambroise Thomas, most famous for his opera version of Shakespeare's Hamlet. His music was lyrical and dramatic, and he was influenced by Bizet himself. Mignon and Raymond are fine operas with great music and on here they sound crisp and vibrant. Paul Paray is a great conductor who deserves more credit. His music is still admired and he is regarded, along with Antal Dorati, as great conductors of music during the LP explosion, when such music as Elvis and the Beatles and Motown were the top sellers. However, because Karajan and Bernstein outshone both Paray and Dorati, their music had an elite following at first which became more mainstream in recent years when their remastered recordings were released. All fans of Paray will want this one."