Ansermet/OSR: Brahms Symphony No. 2 + Tragic Overture - French Decca SXL 6.060
Jacket VG / LP EX / French pressing
This lovely LP from Decca (SXL 6.060, French pressing, black/silver WBg label, stereo) features Ernest Ansermet and L'Orchestra de la Suisse Romande's resplendent accounts of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 73 and the Tragic Overture Op. 81, part of their complete cycle, taped in the warm, rich acoustics of Geneva's Victoria Hall in February 1963, remarkable performances that boast demonstration-quality Decca engineering.
Somewhat disparaged by producer John Culshaw in his autobiography Putting the Record Straight, Ansermet’s readings of the Austro-German repertoire remain grossly underrated. In fact, they prove consistenly inspired and inspiring, with countless moments of special insight. Brahms was a part of Ansermet's core repertoire from his earliest concerts and he brings a lifetime's wisdom and experience to music that was as close to his heart as the French and Russian repertoire he is more generally associated with. Indeed, Ansermet once averred: "The classics [have taken] as a great a place in my life as the contemporaries, perhaps even greater, because of their perfection and grandeur."
In addition, the endless apologies made for the supposed deficiencies of L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande fail to stand up here, given the superbly refined and powerful playing throughout. There is a tremendous sense of occasion to these recordings, as if L'Orchestre de Suisse Romande relished the occasion to flash their mettle in Brahms.
Ansermet was then aged 82, and a lifetime's wisdom and authority informs these remarkable readings, which are warm, vital, and brilliantly characterized. Finally, there are the superb liner notes written by Decca producer Ray Minshull, provided in French only. The striking cover art is uncredited, alas.
The reverse side of the jacket carries insightful liner notes (uncredited), published in French only. The striking cover art is similarly uncredited.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD. There is bumping/wear at corners, as well as a bit of writing, ringwear, and discoloration to the rear panel. However, there are no seamsplits or other defects, and the whole remains solid, bright, and attractive – a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although surfaces are not perfectly silent, this is a fine copy and the playback is enjoyable. However, if you must have a flawless or NM copy, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, rates as an excellent collector's copy.