A vintage disc of unduly neglected music
Aronne | 08/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ernest Ansermet was one of those great conductors who lived during the era of mono sound. This disc includes some of his later interpretations. The music here is, in general, performed expertly.
The Seasons is well documented on disc; Ansermet has fierce competition. For a recording with fresher sound, look to Serebrier's new WarnerClassics disc, which has just the right acoustics for Glazunov. In the present recording, the wind instruments seem somewhat shrill initially in Spring and Autumn sounds a bit harsh at first, but both of these defects fade as the music continues.
The Concert Waltzes are hard to find to be sure, but are both delightful and sincere works. They are not his "greatest" works, but I like them considerably. They are meant to charm more than impress.
Stenka Rasin is an early work that should be heard more often. It is quite moving, but unfortunately has the worst sound on the disc. The other works were recorded in 1967, but Stenka comes from 1954. Surprisingly, however, it is in stereo, and is still pretty good, if it shows its age in the climaxes. If you don't mind analog (I don't and I'm 17), this will be listenable, if nothing else. For another recording with better (but not entirely better) sound, look for Svetlanov's recording on Vox, coupled with Fedoseyev's account of Glazunov's Symphonies 1, 2, and 4. Sadly, this last recording is even more difficult to find than the Ansermet recording. Svetlanov's conduction causes the work to sound more mature and at times urgent than Ansermet, though this latter one is good enough (he comes in a minute less than Svetlanov).
Music: 5 Star
Performance: 5 Star
Sound: 4 Star, maybe 3 in Stenka Rasin
Overall: The music is too good to give this issue anything less than five stars, and the sound does not take away the enjoyment when it comes right down to it. Recommended, though better can probably be had for The Seasons since it is so widely recorded."