C1359. ERNEST ANSERMET Cond. Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, w.Maria Stader, Marga Höffgen, Josef Traxel, & Kim Borg: MISSA SOLEMNIS - Live Performance, 23 May, 1962; w.Gré Brouwenstijn, Elsa Cavelti, Josef Traxel & Heinz Rehfuss: Choral Symphony #9 in d - Live Performance, 27 Oct., 1957 (both Beethoven). (Canada) 2–St Laurent Studio YSL T-274. Transfers by Yves St Laurent, [Exceptionally noble performances, taken from remarkably fine and clear broadcast-quality tapes].
“For 50 years Ansermet directed an orchestra that was second-rate in tone and technique, yet Ernest Ansermet drew performances from it that cut right to the heart of the music. A musician of catholic taste, Ansermet was a reliable, insightful interpreter of composers from Mozart to Martin. His recordings in the 1950s and 1960s with the Suisse Romande Orchestra, which he founded, retain strong interest for collectors who value nuance over tonal sheen. These recordings are of especial interest as they provide a link to composers active in Paris in the early twentieth century, with whom Ansermet was closely associated.
[In his youth] he kept an eye trained on the technique of local conductors, and took courses in music with Alexandre Denéréaz, Otto Barblan, and Ernest Bloch. Ansermet sought further advice on conducting from Felix Mottl in Munich and Artur Nikisch in Berlin, then concentrated mainly on teaching himself the art of the baton. In 1918 he organized the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, from the start performing a substantial amount of contemporary French and Russian music. Ansermet befriended many of the great progressive composers of the time, especially Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky. Through Stravinsky, Ansermet met Serge Diaghilev and was appointed principal conductor of the latter's Ballets Russes, touring with the company to Paris, London, Italy, Spain, South America, and the United States. During a 1916 tour Ansermet made his first recordings with the Ballets Russes orchestra -- the beginning of a half century of making intriguing records with less-than-stellar ensembles. Through his association with the Ballets Russes, Ansermet was able to premiere many of the period's most important dance scores, including Falla's THREE-CORNERED HAT, Prokofiev's THE BUFFOON, Satie's PARADE, and Stravinsky's PULCINELLA. As an extra-curricular wartime diversion, on 28 September, 1918, Ansermet premiered Stravinsky's L'HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT in Geneva.
Ansermet was also a strong champion of such other contemporary composers as Bartók and Britten, premiering the latter's opera THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA. He retired from conducting in 1967. His publications include LE GESTE DU CHEF D'ORCHESTRE (1943) and LES FONDEMENTS DE LA MUSIQUE DANS LA CONSCIENCE HUMAINE (1961) [B1009 & B1086], in which he used mathematics to discredit 12-tone and other advanced compositional techniques.”
- James Reel, allmusic.com
“Josef Traxel was a German operatic tenor, particularly associated with Mozart roles and the German repertory. He studied at the Darmstadt Conservatory, but was conscripted into the army before beginning his career. However, he was able to make his début in Mainz, as Don Ottavio, in 1942, while on sick-leave from the army. After internment in Britain as a prisoner of war, he returned to Germany and resumed his career in Nuremberg in 1946, where he remained until 1952, and then joined the Stuttgart Opera. The same year he appeared at the Salzburg Festival, where he sang the role of Mercury at the premiere of Richard Strauss' DIE LIEBE DER DANAE. In 1954, he first appeared at the Bayreuth Festival as Froh in RHEINGOLD, returning as Walther in TANNHÄUSER, as Erik in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER, the young sailor in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, a Knight in PARSIFAL, and in 1957, as Stolzing in DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG. He was also a frequent guest at the Munich State Opera and the Vienna State Opera, also appearing in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
He possessed a finely poised tenor with an unusually high tessitura; his wide repertoire ranged from Belmonte to Siegmund, and he was also active in concert, often appearing in Bach's oratorios. From 1963 on he was a teacher at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule.”
- Ned Ludd
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011