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.
2 CHABRIER España – Rhapsody for Orchestra
3 CHABRIER Habanera
4 RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
5 DEBUSSY Clair de lune (orch. Caplet)
6 DEBUSSY Marche ecossaise
7 LALO Scherzo for orchestra
8 HONEGGER Pacific 231
9 BACH Air (Orchestral Suite No. 3)
10 WEBER Abu Hassan: Overture
11 FALLA Spanish Dance No. 1 (La vida breve)
12 BARTÓK Romanian Folk Dance No. 1 ‘Stick Dance’
13 STRAVINSKY Scherzo à la Russe
14 PROKOFIEV March (The Love of Three Oranges)
15 MUSSORGSKY Dance of the Persian Slaves (Khovanshchina, orch. Rimsky-Korsakov)
16 MUSSORGSKY Gopak (Sorochintsy Fair, orch. Liadov)
17 TCHAIKOVSKY Waltz of the Flowers (The Nutcracker)
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande