Sunday, August 4, 2013

SAX 2289

Bizet: L'Arlesienne Suites Nos. 1 & 2, Carmen Suite No. 1

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Philharmonia Orchestra

Pressing: ED1
Condition: EX

YAX 81-2
YAX 82-12

Performance: 8/10

Sound: 7/10

Price range: $25-207, mean $85 on popsike

Comments:  Another Columbia SAX with superb production quality.  Beautiful heavy laminated cover with Van Gogh's Cornfield with Cypress Trees on the front.  The inner sleeve on this one was a little different from the standard plastic-lined paper sleeve.  The paper was thicker and almost clothlike -- a very nice touch.  You feel like you're getting a high quality product.  Performances of both the L'Arlesienne and Carmen are quite excellent, and the sound has good dynamic range with pretty decent clarity.  My copy unfortunately has a little bit of surface crackle, but the music is still enjoyable.

To be entirely honest, I've never been a huge fan of the L'Arlesienne Suites -- they move along a little too slowly for my tastes, and I prefer the Carmen Suites -- but if I had to pick my favorite analog recording of this, I'd go with Jean Morel and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Convent Garden on RCA Living Stereo.

From the original 1959 Gramophone review:
"This Karajan performance is in...the highest class...Karajan gets beautiful and brilliant performances, superb playing from the Philharmonia and a first-rate recording..."

This recording, like the Kletzki Sibelius, has been remastered and reissued by Hi-Q Supercuts.  I also haven't listened to this reissue and cannot make a comparison, but I imagine that it must sound pretty good and most likely cleaner than the original.


  1. And then just to confuse every one there is:
    SAX2566 Bizet: L'Arlesienne Suites 1/2/Carmen: Suite 1 FCC Cluytens CFP 40283 $1200

    A second pressing that is quite rare and pricey. Here, there is an alternative, CFP 40283. For the LP under review there is only the blue and silver. Audio samples of Cluytens performance:

    These samples don't do it for me. I here Beecham is supposed to be good. Here is 78 rpm sample of the Farandole which does it for me:

    And off the Angel version of the LP in review the whole suite 2:

    suite 1 with Mr. K:


    I really like the Beecham and may have to check out ASD 252 (also SXLP30276, HQS 1108). For the LP under review here, Billboard called it a "distinguished addition" and gave it 4 stars. I like it.

    1. I'd recommend not bothering with the Beecham ASD 252. I have it. Beautiful cover and record, but the sound is not very good. Lack of clarity with distortion in loud passages. The CD is far better.

    2. Checking out the vintage LPs of a local audiophile and found nothing whatsoever, except low and behold this LP. Listened a bit and it wasn't bad, but strings a little funny/sickly. I'll try to get new friend over next month with the Beecham. At $70 for NM, I'd forego and get the Concert Classic.

    3. If you get the Concert Classic, I'd be interested in hearing how it sounds. I've never done a head to head between a SAX and Concert Classic.

    4. Talking about the Beecham ASD. SAX are a different animal. My SAX reissue can have nice bass and a tubey sound on earlier pressings, but they don't have magic of my SAX Peter and Wolf of Magic Notes Karajan Water Music.

      EMI pressings are amazing. They all have their place, even the late EMI Lyrita pressings. Friend heard Lyrita Harp Concerto I blogged on and wants me to get him a copy.

    5. EMI pressings in general are amazing. I'd say that even the EMI releases after the "golden age", those made in the mid-late 60s and 70s, sound great. They have really quite surfaces and incredible clarity and dynamic range on some of them. Color postage stamps and black/white postage stamps can be superb.

  2. Thanks! I am becoming a fan of Mr. K on the Columbia label, so I will keep my eyes peeled for a deal on this.

  3. Hit the London blue back of this CS6062. Very nice, typical blue back sound with the nice bumped up treble presence which works well enough in the less dynamic passages. However, when the strings get a cranking, the bumped up treble leaves things sounding a bit ragged.

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