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Stravinsky and Ansermet were synonymous. The two met in 1913, their working friendship blossomed, and in 1915, on Stravinsky’s recommendation, Ansermet became Diaghilev’s principal conductor. This meant that Ansermet was in frequent contact with the composer’s ballet scores and also gave the first performances of a number of them. He recorded The Firebird on several occasions, in both mono and stereo, and this recording, made not with ‘his’ Suisse Romande Orchestra but with the New Philharmonia, on 26 and 29 November 1968. He was then 85 years old. Less than three months later, on 20 February 1969, following a series of mild heart attacks, he passed away. Full of light and shade, supremely enchanting, but devoid of any sentimental varnish, this is a recording of The Firebird to be treasured and it was issued, following Ansermet’s death, as a 2LP set, the second LP made up of excerpts from the rehearsal pertaining to the recording. Following its CD reissue in Decca’s Classic Sound series, it now reappears on CD and will be warmly welcomed by many collectors.
“Recorded three months before his death, Ansermet's sharply focused if rather deliberate Firebird reflects, as a 50-minute bonus rehearsal confirms, his acute ear and commitment to rhythm and colour.”
“the sheer beauty of sound is a delight throughout, not just the subtlety and precision of the orchestral playing (which includes some very fine solo work) but the unexaggerated clarity of detail, the wholly natural and credible perspective and the finely-judged dynamic shadings … All these qualities are enhanced by the CD recording, which adds a degree of directness without damaging the spaciousness of the sound. Not the least virtue of Ansermet’s approach is the readiness with which it evokes dance. His interpretation still earns its place in the catalogue”
“The recording is of vintage Decca quality and remains demonstration-worthy on disc”
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