ARTHUR HONEGGER: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 – Suisse Romande/ Ernest Ansermet – HDTT

by | Feb 4, 2012 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

ARTHUR HONEGGER: Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique;” Symphony No. 4 “Deliciae Basilienses” – L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Ernest Ansermet – (1968 London) [avail. in various formats from] 96K/24-bit DVD – HDDVD248. 55:09 *****:
HDTT started sourcing their now-public domain masters from two-track prerecorded tapes, valued for their high levels and relative freedom from hiss and noise. Then they moved on to quarter-track prerecorded tapes, using their highest level of mastering gear for resulting hi-res reissues with no noticeable hiss.  Now they are occasionally mastering from highest quality vinyl.  In this instance it was a London/Decca LP originally released in September of 1968, recorded in the orchestra’s Victoria Hall in Geneva.  I found only one Suisse Romande/Ansermet London CD in my collection, but of other works. The HDTT reissue had a huge improvement in clarity, detail and spatial positioning of the musicians. There was absolutely no surface noise to peg it as an LP source.  I then did a comparison to a couple of Speakers Corner vinyl reissues of Suisse Romande recordings. The extreme high end had a greater extension on the HDTT reissue, but the vinyls had just a bit more “air” – a frequent occurrence in such A/B comparisons.
To the music: Honegger’s Third was written in Paris, where the Swiss composer had been during WWII, just after the end of the war. Its three movements evoke the Requiem Mass, which had similarities to Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem. Its melancholic mood was entirely dissipated by the Fourth Symphony, which has lyrical and optimistic flavor—celebrating the delights of his Swiss city of Basle. However, both symphonies have a more solemn character than that of his fellow composers in Les Six. Honegger’s harmonies are always interesting, and his driving rhythms move his works along. (Of course his Pacific 231 is the great example of the latter quality.)
—John Sunier

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