Ansermet / OSR – Stravinsky: Symphony in C – Symphony in Three Movements (Speakers Corner / Decca, 180g pressing)

# Composer: Igor Stravinsky
# Orchestra: L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
# Conductor: Ernest Ansermet
# Vinyl (1961 / 2013)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# DR Analysis: DR 14
# Label: Speakers Corner / Decca | SXL 2237
# Size: 24-bit/192kHz (2.1GB), 24-bit/96kHz (1.06GB) and 16-bit/44.1kHz (292MB)
# Recovery: 5%
# Scan: yes
# Servers: File Factory / File Post

From the Speakers Corner website:

It is well known that the mature Stravinsky was candidly scathing about some of his early compositions. However, he did subscribe a measure of academic value to his very first symphony, if only to show how one should not compose. In the following decades he wrote his so-called neo-classical symphonies, but these too found no mercy in the eyes and ears of avant-garde extremists, and are thus among the most underestimated orchestral compositions of the 20th century.

The new aspiration to write with clarity and simplicity, and so turning away from late-romantic and impressionistic expression, is already found in the key of C major, which has no accidentals. But the compositional technique is tricky: sharp polytonal melodies grow out of tonal islands, which, however never result in pleasant-sounding cadences even after numerous attempts to do so.

The Symphony in Three Movements, too, breaks with tradition as regards its formal structure, which Stravinsky himself regarded as naïve. All the more intricate, however, is the ingenious melodiousness, which is unfolded with ballet-like rhythms by the whole orchestra.

This fresh, bold music definitely needs to be performed by an astute and dauntless ensemble – such as West-Swiss Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Ernest Ansermet, an ardent champion of modern works.


One of the classic Decca Sleeves and, arguably, Ansermet’s finest Stravinsky LP – recorded at Geneva Hall in 1960. And to my mind was by no means superseded by the Suisse Romande’s 1982 digital remake with Dutoit. The Swiss conductor’s long association with Stravinsky’s music ended with the composer’s dabbling with serialism (of which he disapproved), but these two scores, composed in 1939/45, were well suited to Ansermet’s analytical style. The reissue is cut at higher levels than Decca’s own; brighter and cleaner in Symphony in C, the one in Three Movements is impressive indeed. – CD, HiFi News

Part of Stravinsky’s stylistic arsenal is the “interruption” technique, where one music thread/texture is abruptly changed to another — in contrast to most music, which contains efforts at transition between contrasting music. The “Rite of Spring” is the best instantiation of this style, with violent, abrupt shifts forming the ballet’s bedrock style. What if we were to take that “interruption” technique and remove any sort of directional flow from the equation? Would the music become aimless, even timeless, a series of fragments? The Symphonies is an experiment in that direction.

I grew up listening to the Ernest Ansermet/Suisse Romande recording of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and have always found it the most exciting and most natural version of the alternatives I have heard. Ansermet’s approach is unfussy and direct, creating a dramatic rendition that continues to please.

The Symphony in Three Movements continues to be one of Stravinsky’s most popular works – and I well understand why. It’s a blunter composition than others from his pen, such as the Symphony in C, a 30-minute neoclassic work done with a look backward at Haydn and Mozart, which I find somewhat uneven and certainly less engrossing and taking than the Symphony in Three Movements. While the Larghetto is an attractive Haydnesque movement, the finale has to be one of the most intentionally perverse and strange pieces by Stravinsky, and I find the opening Moderato to meander despite the rhythmic punctuation. So the Symphony in Three Movements I think is clearly the better of the two works. – jt52,

Track Listing:

Side One
Symphony in C Major (1940)
01 – 1. Moderato alla breve
02 – 2. Larghetto concertante
03 – 3. Allegretto
04 – 4. Adagio – Tempo giusto, Alla breve

Side Two
Symphony in Three Movements (1945)
05 – 1. First Movement
06 – 2. Andante – Interlude – L’istesso tempo
07 – 3. Con moto

Recorded in April 1960 at Victoria Hall, Geneva
Roy Wallace – Recording engineer
Ray Minshull – Producer

Additional info can be found here.

Ripping Info:

All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5

Technics SL1200-MK5 (modified)
– Rega RB300 arm with RB700 wiring
– Michell Tecnoweight
– SoundSupports armboard
– Trans-Fi Audio ResoMat
Audio Technica AT33PTG/II
AVID Pellar preamp
RME Hammerfall 9632 ADC

Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only), iZotope RX3

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16 thoughts on “Ansermet / OSR – Stravinsky: Symphony in C – Symphony in Three Movements (Speakers Corner / Decca, 180g pressing)

  1. I have almost everything Ansermet recorded on CD and 4-track tape and have to admit that the Speakers Corner releases rank at the top. Thanks for sharing them.

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