- Ernest Ansermet Collection
- Stravinsky Le Sacre Du Printemps - Ernest Ansermet & L'Orchestre de la
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"Le Sacre du Printemps" Certainly the greatest ballet score and a piece certainly in most peoples top ten for the greatest composition of the C20. At the dawn of stereo recording "le Sacre" was represented by three recordings: This one Ansermet with the OSR, Monteraux with the Paris Conservatoire and Markevitch with the Philharmonia. The first two were Decca recordings, the second was made for RCA, and the last, a stereo remake of an earlier mono recording, was from HMV. Truth to tell,only the Philharmonia could offer the power and precision necessary to successfully engage with Stravinsky's Dionysian masterpiece. All three are of historical interest as all the conductors were close associates of Stravinsky (having a Stravinsky number of 1 ) The Ansermet recording, our focus here receives a terrific, early vintage stereo recording from Decca with excellent warmth balance and superlative inner clarity. Unfortunately this serves only to illuminate the shortcomings of the OSR both in soloistic lapses and less than perfect ensemble. Ansermet tends to take things steadily which was perhaps necessary Still, as Stravinsky said of Monteraux he never attempts to "seek his own glory in it" and what we have is a genuine presentation of the music not some virtuoso bash through. If you want to appreciate just how good late fifties, early sixties stereo recording was and listen to a performance from an historical figure who was close to Stravinsky himself then this is certainly worth investigating. If however you want absolutely want the best "Sacre" ever made and have only room for one recording then Stravinsky's own account with the Columbia S.O (actually the LA P O) on Columbia also available in splendidly refurbished sound (as is the Ansermet) on HDTT.
I do not believe one can fault the arrangement, precision of the orchestra as a single entity, or instrument articulation. Likewise, environmental cues are present. Transfer is pristine. I have two reservations, both of which have no relevance to the digital transfer. There is a distance / hollowness to the sound which could be microphone placement in the hall. Lacking is the immediacy and richness of an RCA 3 track recording. The second involves personal taste: I would prefer a more adventurous conductor such as De Sabata. Spending the extra concentration required to focus in on the performance, I hear an accurate, articulate, and respectful reading of the score.
How fortunate we are that 37 years after conducting the first post-war (after-the-disaster) production of Stravinsky's seminal Rite of Spring, Ernest Ansermet made a modern recording in the early days of stereo. What amazes is the clarity of every part, balanced perfectly with more precision and insight than one finds in the highly-touted Boulez/Cleveland recording. The most exciting Rite is the 1958 NY Philharmonic that Bernstein did in one-take, which caused Stravinsky to leap out of his chair and yell "Wow!" The other superior Rite is the Salonen/LA Philharmonic recorded in surround sound in the then new Disney Hall. But as good as those 2 recordings are, they lack the extreme accuracy from L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, playing here well beyond their reputation. Most listeners will be surprised by two things: Ansermet's tempi which are slower than we've become accustomed, and the transparency and striking balance of every inner voice. No one knows this work better than Ansermet and his rendering is revelatory. The HDTT transfer is crystalline with more presence and warmth than my LP. No matter how many copies of The Rite you have, this Rite is a must have.
Title: Stravinsky Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Artist(s): Ernest Ansermet & L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Recording Info: Transferred from a 15ips 2-track tape
Recorded by Decca Producer: James Walker Engineer: Roy Wallace
15,20,21 Apr, 2&18 May 1957 at Victoria Hall, Genevat
The Adoration Of The Earth 15:48 Introduction; Harbingers Of Spring - Dances Of The Adolescents; Mock Abduction; Spring Rounds; Games Of The Rival Tribes; Procession Of The Sage; Dance Of The Earth The Sacrifice 17:44 Introduction; Mystical Circles Of The Adolescents; Glorification Of The Victim; Evocation Of The Ancestors; Ritual Of The Ancestors; Sacred Dance - The Victim
Total Time 33:52