Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française  *Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Beecham
Warner Classics 24356 723122

Sir Thomas Beecham [1879-1961], the grandson of the founder of the pill-manufacturing firm, was the greatest single force for musical good in this country during his lifetime and a constant source of quotable anecdotes and sayings. He once maintained that "the English may not like music but they absolutely love the noise it makes"; and once, when an audience greeted him with complete silence, he glanced at it for a moment, then turned to the orchestra and said: "Let us pray." Georges Bizet [1838-75] was one of those artists whose work made large sums of money for other people after his death. He wrote his brilliant symphony when he was 17 but did not discover his true creative self until he was twice that age and was inspired by Daudet’s play 'L'Arlésienne' He died three years later having written his greatest work, the opera 'Carmen.' The Jury of the Académie du Disque Français opined that "Beecham has done more for French music abroad than any French conductor", and on listening to this album the words panache and joie de vivre come immediately to mind. Chock-full of good tunes and newly reissued at an attractive price, it is a release to cherish.

Peter Burt

May 2015

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