Bizet – Suite No. 2 from L’Arlesienne

Suite No. 2 from L’Arlesienne (1872/1879)

Georges Bizet (1838-1875) arr. Ernest Guiraud

  1. Pastorale
  2. Intermezzo
  3. Minuet
  4. Farandole

Bizet was the son of musicians, and entered the Paris Conservatoire just before he turned ten. He later won the Prix de Rome and is best known for Carmen, which, after Bizet’s early death aged 36, became the most popular of all operas. Although he suffered from depression, Bizet’s instrumental music is frequently engaging and cheerful.

In 1872 Bizet composed the incidental music to Alphonse Daudet’s play, LÁlrlesienne or The Maid of Arles. (The title character doesn’t actually appear in the play, so today the French use the term “LÁrlesienne” for anyone who fails to turn up!) Although the play was a failure, the music was well-received, and Bizet immediately arranged four of the 27 numbers into a suite of pieces from it. Four years after Bizet’s death, his friend Ernest Guiraud arranged a second suite, which we perform today.

The opening Pastorale sets the early morning scene for Act 2. The Intermezzo is based on a Provençal folksong, and the Minuet is from Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers from 10 years earlier. The rousing Farandole is a dance from Act 3, augmented by The March of the Three Kings from the first suite.

Performed: Aug 2013

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