WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

A Tribute To Spain / Ansermet, Rubinstein, Suisse Romande

Release Date: 01/11/2011 
Label:  Cascavelle   Catalog #: 3134  
Composer:  Manuel de FallaClaude DebussyMaurice Ravel
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain. 1 Hommages. DEBUSSY Ibéria. RAVEL Rapsodie Espagnole Ernest Ansermet, cond; 1 Arthur Rubinstein (pn); Suisse Romande O CASCAVELLE 3134, mono (69: 20) Live: 1958–61

Though Swiss by birth, Ernest Ansermet had a deep Read more knowledge of both the language and culture of Spain. During World War I, when most countries were shut down to artists, it was Spain that opened its doors to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and Ansermet, his conductor at the time. Thus one approaches this CD with high expectations that are not disappointed, even though two of the pieces here are ersatz Spanish works by French composers. Ansermet knew all three composers well, and fully captures both the structure and the bouquet of each work.

Nights in the Gardens of Spain is particularly evocative, reveling in the bright colors and rhythms. Rubinstein, who played a large number of concertos with Ansermet, appears here almost in the capacity of an ensemble pianist, and does a magnificent job. One would think he’d been playing Falla all his life. As in the case of so many Ansermet performances, one scarcely knows where to begin praising it, moreover how to compare it to other readings. He had his own way with rhythm, and this imbued all of his work with an unusual sense of rightness even when it deviated from the way one expects a piece to sound.

Hommages was Falla’s musical eulogy for the four musicians who meant the most to him: Enrique Fernández, Debussy, his former teacher Paul Dukas, and Spanish composer Felipe Pedrell. Whether due to the sonics or Ansermet’s orchestral balance, this performance also has a warm weightiness to it, particularly in the “Elegia de la guitarra” for Debussy. As for Debussy’s own Ibéria, apparently Ansermet, like his colleague Toscanini, enjoyed conducting it as an independent piece outside of its context in the Images pour orchestre. This performance, aptly, has a much more Spanish than French feel to the rhythms, as well as interesting touches of rubato one normally doesn’t hear in this work. The quirkiness of the wind and string scoring, like Toscanini’s late recording, is brought out with exceptional clarity. Occasionally, one even hears slight pulse shifts within a bar in a way that eludes many conductors of this piece, past and present. It is, simply, a mesmerizing performance.

Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole was also a favorite of Charles Munch, who made a splendid recording of it for RCA Victor. Ansermet’s performance has much the same atmosphere and even more precise ensemble playing. The high winds and glockenspiel in the first movement have an unusually fine shimmer for an off-the-air mono recording, though the distant trumpet part sounds a little indistinct. Yet the mood is different from Munch’s: a bit more subdued, almost nostalgic in feeling, as if remembering Spain from years past rather than being there at the moment and, in the third movement, Ansermet’s penchant for slightly irregular rhythms adds a piquant interest to the proceedings.

This is a disc that most certainly adds to our appreciation of Ansermet. If you are not put off by good, clear, solid mono sound, you really need to hear this one.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

Nights in the gardens of Spain by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1915; Spain 
Homenajes (4) for Orchestra by Manuel de Falla
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1939; Spain 
Images for Orchestra: no 2, Ibéria by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; France 
Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title