Bizet – Roma Symphony

There’s more to Bizet than “Carmen.” And while the works on this new collection aren’t likely to replace Bizet’s greatest hit, they do provide insight into the composer’s style and make for some enjoyable light listening.

The disc starts with the Marche funébre in B minor. It’s not quite the downer you might think. Bizet’s funeral march reminded me of Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” with its harmonic motions and richly scored stentorian chords.

Bizet’s “Overture in A minor” is one of the stronger works on the album (in my opinion). It seems to have a little more emotional depth to it — in additional to some gorgeous melodies.

The Patrie Overture bustles with energy. This is one curtain-raiser that delivers! Bizet’s 1871 “Petite Suite” is a charming set of miniatures that show Bizet’s skill as an orchestrator.

The “Roma” symphony, composed in the 1860’s as part of Bizet’s the Prix de Rome requirements. The symphony isn’t a tightly organized work; some of it was recycled from an earlier Prix composition. Bizet tinkered with it throughout his life, but the work never really jelled. Still, it has its moments (especially in the scherzo) and overall makes for some pleasant listening.

The RTE National Symphony Orchestra directed by Jean-Luc Tingaud performs well, although the ensemble sound seems a little lightweight, as if the orchestra was holding back a little. But then, this is lightweight material to begin with.

Georges Bizet: Roma – Symphony
RTE National Symphony Orchestra; Jean-Luc Tingaud, conductor
Naxos 8.573344

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