WORKS: Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1; Martinu: Symphony No. 4
PERFORMER: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet
CATALOGUE NO: VEL 3127
Although he eschewed serialism, the two performances on this disc reflect Ansermet’s lifelong commitment to contemporary music. The performance of Dutilleux’s First Symphony is from March 1956, not quite five years after the work’s premiere.
It is a strong contender for the earliest recording of this marvellous work which marks a crucial point on the composer’s development of his profoundly individual voice.
Ansermet and the OSF capture the sense of mystery at the opening and the hush of the final bars, while the Scherzo fizzes along on a well-controlled slow-burn. The orchestra surpasses itself, with nuanced colours in the wind and the strings shaping their phrases in the Intermezzo with finesse.
Ansermet’s relationship with Martinu was especially strong, and this performance of the Fourth Symphony demonstrates his clear command of its various moods.
There are a few scrappy moments in the complex textures, but a sense of immediacy shines through. Christopher Dingle