A generous compilation of short pieces either recorded individually or extracted from the Decca discography of Ernest Ansermet. Included is a complete ten-inch LP of encores entitled ‘Orchestral Favourites’ and containing pieces by Falla, Chabrier, Mussorgsky and Debussy. This dates from October 1955, near the beginning of Decca’s stereo catalogue whereas the rest of the compilation is taken from later recordings, up to September 1968 in the case of Lalo’s Scherzo.
Ansermet died the following year, leaving behind a vast catalogue of recordings which document above all his idiomatic feeling and meticulous approach to the scores of the French and Swiss composers whom, in many cases, he knew personally: Debussy, Ravel and Honegger among them. However, Ansermet was far too complete a musician to be restricted in his sympathies to music of his own heritage and the rhythmic verve and brilliant attack he cultivated from the Suisse Romande orchestra particularly suits Russian music such as the showpieces by Stravinsky, Borodin, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky items on this album.
Indeed, the compilation stands as an ideal sampler to the extensive catalogue of the conductor’s work for Decca and systematically reissued by Eloquence. Over the course of 52 years, Ansermet made recordings tirelessly, at a rate of two sessions per year, often late into the night when the OSR had completed its normal working day of rehearsals, concert or opera. His recorded legacy encompasses 296 works by 63 different composers from Bach to Frank Martin.
Though his demeanour often appeared stern, his music-making could smile as well as dazzle. In works such as the Hungarian March, Espana or the Scherzo à la Russe he produced the music with a conjuror’s flourish worthy of Stokowski. With 17 tracks drawn from 11 separate recording sessions, even Ansermet aficionados will find something new here. A booklet appreciation of the conductor’s career is supplied by his biographer, François Hudry.
HECTOR BERLIOZ: Marche hongroise (La Damnation de Faust)
España – Rhapsody for Orchestra
MAURICE RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso
Clair de lune (orch. Caplet)
EDOUARD LALO: Scherzo for orchestra
ARTHUR HONEGGER: Pacific 231
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Air (Orchestral Suite No. 3)
CARL MARIA VONWEBER: Abu Hassan: Overture
MANUEL DE FALLA: Spanish Dance No. 1 (La vida breve)
BELA BARTÓK: Romania e of Three Oranges)
Dance of the Persian Slaves (Khovanshchina, orch. Rimsky-Korsakov)
Gopak: (Sorochintsy Fair, orch. Liadov)
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY: Waltz of the Flowers (The Nutcracker)
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Recording Producers: John Mordler (Berlioz, Chabrier: España, Lalo, Stravinsky); James Walker, Michael Bremner (Ravel, Prokofiev); James Walker (Weber, Tchaikovsky); Michael Bremner (Honegger, J.S. Bach, Bartók, Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves); James Walker, Victor Olof (Falla, Chabrier: Habanera, Debussy, Mussorgsky: Gopak)
Balance Engineers: James Lock (Berlioz, Chabrier: España, Lalo, Bartók, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves); Roy Wallace, Karl Brugger (Ravel, Prokofiev); Roy Wallace (Honegger, J.S. Bach, Weber); Roy Wallace, James Timms (Tchaikovsky); Roy Wallace, Gil Went (Falla, Chabrier: Habanera, Debussy, Mussorgsky: Gopak)
Recording Location: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, 7–16 October 1955 (Falla, Chabrier: Habanera, Debussy, Mussorgsky: Gopak), 7 October–11 November 1958 (Weber, Tchaikovsky), 8 October–25 November 1960 (Ravel), 22 March 1961 (Prokofiev), 30 September–15 November 1961 (J.S. Bach), 2–8 April 1963 (Honegger), 4 April–3 May 1964 (Bartók, Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves), 24 November 1964 (Stravinsky), 7, 8 & 10 December 1964 (Chabrier: España), 11, 13, 15 & 16 December 1964 (Berlioz), 21–24 September 1968 (Lalo)
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer
Original Decca LP Releases: SXL 6165 (Berlioz); SXL 6168 (Chabrier España); LW 5234 (Falla, Chabrier: Habanera, Debussy, Mussorgsky: Gopak); SXL 2273 (Ravel); SXL 6395 (Lalo); SXL 6065 (Honegger); SXL 6004 (Bach); SXL 2112 (Weber); SXL 6121 (Bartók); SXL 6171 (Stravinsky); SXL 2292 (Prokofiev); SXL 6119 (Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves); SXL 2092–93 (Tchaikovsky)
‘Not all the pieces are, in origin, orchestral, and certainly not all of them are favourites. But they very soon might be, played and recorded like this… Ansermet gives very effective accounts… throughout the recorded sound is quite excellent.’ Gramophone, June 1956 (‘Orchestral Favourites’)