C1583. ERNEST ANSERMET Cond. Berlin Phil.: Symphony #2 in c (Schumann); La Mer (Debussy); w.ROBERT CASADESUS: Piano Concerto #24 in c, K.491 (Mozart). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-494, Live Performance, 25 March,1957. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Robert Casadesus was the quintessential French musician, a passionate perfectionist who carried the Gallic virtues of precision, clarity, and elegance into the mid-twentieth century as an embodiment of the living spirit of classicism - precision animated by passion, clarity attained through sensuous scintillance, and elegance as the expression of the most lucidly aware animation. Born in Paris to a distinguished family of musicians - his father and three uncles enjoyed careers as performers and composers - Robert took first prize for piano at the Paris Conservatoire at age 14. Studies with Louis Diémer - early enthusiast of the French clavicenistes, premiere soloist and dedicatée of Franck's Variations symphoniques for piano and orchestra - graced Casadesus with the mantle of the inheritor. In 1921 he married fellow Diémer pupil Gabrielle (Gaby). The following year he earned Ravel's friendship with his performance of 'Gaspard de la nuit', which led to European tours with the composer and legendary soprano Madeleine Grey. 'You are a composer', Ravel wrote, 'because you have the courage to play 'Gibet' as I imagined it, that is, as a slow piece...And virtuoso pianists do not want to play it like that. They double the tempo and make it much faster. That is why I think you are a composer'. Indeed, Casadesus' catalogue eventually embraced some 68 works, including seven symphonies, concerti for two and three pianos and orchestra, 27 chamber works, and 20 works for piano. It is music for connoisseurs, music of formal concision not devoid of passionate expression, but highly wrought, suggestive, and understated in, typically, lyrically attenuated slow movements, tender and strange, and conclusions of fastidious tumult. It is the antithesis of Mahler's confessional expansiveness, while Stravinsky's neo-Classical manner seems gimmicky and carnivalesque by comparison. Casadesus was a distinguished teacher, beginning his career as Professor of Piano at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau in 1921, and replacing Isidor Philipp as its head in 1935. But it is primarily as a touring pianist and recording artist that Casadesus is remembered, appearing throughout Europe and the United States over 2,000 times in a career spanning half a century, often in duo-piano recitals with his wife. His authoritative, exhilarating recordings of the Mozart piano concerti with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, the Beethoven violin sonatas and the Franck Sonata with Zino Francescatti, Franck's 'Variations symphoniques' and d'Indy's 'Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français' with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the piano works of Ravel - to name but the most prominent - are among the very greatest."
- Adrian Corleonis, allmusic.com
"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 Denerez, 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 Bartok 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