Bizet: L'Arlesienne Suites Nos. 1 & 2, Carmen Suite No. 1
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
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.