Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rene Leibowitz conducts two firsts - Schubert and Bizet

Two first symphonies, those of Schubert and Bizet, presented here on the Oceanic label (though the Musical Treasures record label is shown above.)  Distinguished conductor-composer Rene Leibowitz leads the Paris Radio Orchestra, also known as the Paris Philharmonic in many issues, in these early 50's recordings.

I like the programming here. Both of these works were written during the respective composers' formative teenage years. The pieces are both sunny and well structured and are positively effervescent. Astonishing is that they are fully formed, mature works which I'm sure many an older composer would have been proud to pen.  The Bizet, in particular, is a real gem of a work and it is too bad that this composer did not write further in the idiom. Perhaps he might have if fate had not cut his life short at such a young age though, the same could be said for Schubert too.

Rene Leibowitz is a favorite conductor of mine. Every recording of his brims with excitement and sure handed authority. Though most of his records were made with second rate French orchestras during the mono age, he did leave a number of stereo records that are superb and highly valued by audiophiles and collectors. His Pictures at an Exhibition captures the intrumentation of Ravel in an eerily Mussorgsky way, as if Mussorgsky had orchestrated the pictoral episodes, while his integral Beethoven symphony set from London is considered by many cogniscenti to be among the top five sets ever recorded. It's a spectacular achievement of concentration and dedication.

In spite of sonic limitations, this record of Schubert and Bizet is very, very enjoyable.