Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4, Haydn Variations, Overtures, Nänie, Alto Rhapsody, Ein Deutsches Requiem
Ernest Ansermet
Catalogue No.

‘The veteran Swiss conductor was a fine Brahms conductor’ wrote Gramophone magazine and as these recordings prove, he was indeed. The majority of these recordings make their first international debut on CD, following repeated requests by Ansermet fans around the world. Classically poised, yet Romantically generous in their spirit, they make a welcome appearance on CD.

Surveying the series in his liner notes for this set, Colin Anderson writes: “Ansermet takes a broad view of Brahms’s Requiem setting; expressive and imploring at the outset but never mawkish, weighted in the second and not afraid to reveal the music’s bittersweet quality (fourth and fifth movements) while aiming for clarity in even the most lung-bursting, cathedral-filling passages. The music is typically well-analysed by Ansermet; although this is not a ‘heavyweight’ performance, the music emerges with a big, if burdened core, enough to convince that ‘Ein deutsches Requiem’ might just be Brahms’s greatest achievement. Similarly, Ansermet’s conducting of Brahms’s four symphonies is trusting and unvarnished, perceptive of the written page and overall structure while being generously appreciative of the music’s poetic machinations; music at once painstakingly Classical and heart-divulgingly Romantic.”


CD 1
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90

CD 2
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a
Tragic Overture, Op. 81

CD 3
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Nänie, Op. 82
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Helen Watts, contralto

CD 4
Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
Agnes Giebel, soprano
Hermann Prey, baritone

Choeur de la Radio Suisse Romande
Choeur Pro Arte de Lausanne

L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Ernest Ansermet

Recording information

Recording producers: Michael Bremner (Symphonies, Haydn Variations, Overtures); John Mordler (Nänie, Alto Rhapsody, German Requiem)
Recording engineers: Roy Wallace (Symphonies, Haydn Variations, Overtures); James Lock (Nänie, Alto Rhapsody, German Requiem)
Recording location: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, February 1963 (Symphonies, Haydn Variations, Overtures), October 1965 (Rhapsody), June 1966 (Nänie, German Requiem)


‘the excitement is in hearing these great works presented with honesty’ Classical

‘the conducting is energetic, rhythmically taut and accurate … and scrupulous without ever descending into fussiness’ Fanfare

‘Ansermet’s Brahms has a real sense of perspective … the Fourth parades a mighty profile … the Tragic Overture receives one of its finest performances’ Gramophone