In the latest instalment of the Decca Ansermet Legacy, Decca Eloquence introduces the Swiss conductor’s recordings of Beethoven – his symphony cycle, overtures and the rare Weingartner arrangement of the Grosse Fuge. They are issued as three 2CD sets.
François Hudry, the supreme commentator on the art of Ernest Ansermet writes, “the new vision he brought to the Beethoven symphonies was astonishing. Perhaps he was too early in what he did, in his respect for the text and in his weeding out of all the Romantic touches and subjectivity which held sway at the time. Without recourse to so-called ‘authentic’ instruments, Ansermet was trying to return to the composer’s intentions, as given in the score, avoiding the imposition of any responses of his own on the audience.”
Ansermet delivers a lean, muscular performance of the Ninth with a slow movement of cool beauty. The youthful choir adds real zest to the finale and aided by a quartet of star soloists (this was Joan Sutherland’s first recording for Decca) Ansermet gives the choral finale real nobility. CD2 of this set includes Beethoven recordings (selected Overtures and the Weingartner arrangement of the Grosse Fuge) by Ansermet, released for the first time.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ‘Choral’
The Creatures of Prometeus Overture, Op. 43
Fidelio Overture, Op. 72c
Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72a
Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
Grosse Fuge in B flat major, Op. 133 (orch. Felix Weingartner)
Joan Sutherland, soprano
Norma Procter, contralto
Anton Dermota, tenor
Arnold Van Mill, bass
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
‘…the depth and concentration of the Ansermet shines decisively out… Ansermet’s reading is taut and imposing’ Gramophone