Ansermet Encores

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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.