P1082. FANNY DAVIES: Kinderszenen; Davidsbündlertänze - Excerpts; w.Ansermet Cond. Royal Phil.: Concerto in a (all Schumann). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-209, recorded 1928-30. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“On 8 June 1928 Davies gave a recital in London of Schubert and Schumann, and a week later made her first recordings for Columbia. With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Ernest Ansermet she recorded Schumann’s Piano Concerto Op. 54. In February 1929 she returned to record Schumann’s ’Kinderszenen’ Op. 15 and in December 1930 the same composer’s ‘Davidsbündlertänze’ Op. 6. That was the extent of Davies’ published recording career; she died four years later.
The performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto is so fresh and spontaneous that it is a surprise to learn that Davies was in her late sixties when she recorded it. If one reads the reminiscences of any of Clara Schumann’s pupils the same ideas of interpretation abound, and it is in this recording that they are preserved and demonstrated. As Davies remembered, Clara Schumann had said, ‘Schumann is nothing if he is not rhythmic. He is a poet, full of sentiment and fantasy, but he is never sentimental; you must never make his music sound sentimental.’ The performance style of this concerto has changed over the years, distorting the work into an overblown romantic warhorse, but listening to the simplicity and purity of Davies, one cannot help but imagine that this must be close to the way the work would have sounded in Schumann’s time.”
- Jonathan Summers, Naxos’ A–Z OF PIANISTS
“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
“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