Speakers Corner's "Carmen"

Category: Music

Speakers Corner's Bizet's "Carmen" Re-Issue LP

The record at hand is the long awaited re-issue from Speakers Corner of Decca SXL-2037 with Ernest Ansermet and the Orchestre of the Suisse Romande that was originally released in 1958. This LP is Bizet “Carmen” on side one and the “L’ Arlesienne Suite” on side two. This record has also been originally issued in the USA under the number CS6062 and additionally in Europe as Ace of Diamonds SDD 141 and Eclipse ECS155.

I became aware of this release from an email that I got from Speakers Corner earlier this year announcing ten new classical Decca LP’s including this one and some upcoming Ansermet LP’s doing the works of Stravinsky. At the moment Speakers Corner has release a Dvorak LP with the great conductor of that music Istvan Kertesz.

This version of “Carmen” gets a rollicking intro with wide dynamic shadings. A plucked string section is joined by the bowed section and then the plucked section again with the horn woodwind playing the melody. In the Prelude section the Femme Fetale Carmine appears for the first time under the strings tremolo melodrama.

The harp and the woodwinds take the drama to the Smugglers Scene when the percussion enters as the March opens Act 3. At this point in the Act the solo flute and woodwind point and counterpoint and call and answer.

The Habanera an old but well known folksong adaptation which is an imitated Spanish song now enters. Then the March of the Street Urchins follow scored by piccolos, cornet and string in pizzicato set deep into the stage and literally walks sonically across the stage and presents movement in the sound. Percussion is sparse highlighting the triangle towards the end.

The brilliant orchestration shows Bizet’s genius of orchestration. The sound is vivid and transparent with wide breadth of stage with excellent depth. Here it is almost reach out and touch your sense of closeness to the real instruments themselves playing. This is enhanced by the open acoustic of the venue where this was recorded and I am assuming that it was in Geneva.

This is one of the most sought after of the early Decca’s and for good reason. This Speakers Corner re-issue is a gift to us music lovers who are seeking to appreciate the best in music and sound. This is one of the very best LP’s that Speakers Corner has done and they have done many. And just wait until you hear the “L’ Arlesienne Suite” on side two. Get set for another rollicking musical ride.

If you are looking for a companion for comparison purposes I must recommend you seek out the Paul Paray with DSO on Mercury. The original Mercury SR has eluded me so I cannot quote from that. But I have good news the Mercury Golden Import of the same performances on SRI 75060 was at one time on the TAS Super Disk list and it still holds its own in every way. So if you find one in nice shape do not pass it by.

For now run to you local dealer or mail order outlet and get this “record at hand ” re-issue as soon as you can. My copy was flat with silent surfaces and possesses wonderful sound within the grooves. The performances and the sonics are second to none.

Hear what early stereo brilliance is meant to sound like at its very best. Robert Moon supposedly gave this LP in its original form a 17 out of 20 in his book which I do not have. I do not know what LP version he used to evaluate sound and performance. But it is with that accolade that I give this DECCA re-issue the highest rating that I can. My rating is four stars out of four.

Four out of four!

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The golden imports are excellent. And after listening, are superior to many of the original Mercury's. The original mercury's were a major disappointment when it came to vinyl quality. The ridicules pricing that some still command is still a joke with many of the golden imports going for pennies on the dollar.