This disc includes three Stravinsky essentials, in the following order: the Symphony in C (1940), Symphony in Three Movements (1945), and Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920). The Symphony in C was written during an extremely difficult period in the composer's life - his mother, wife and eldest daughter died from tuberculosis within the space of a year and Stravinsky himself contracted the disease - yet there's no evidence of these tragedies in the music. The Symphony is a tribute to his ability not just to survive these events, but to overcome them. The Symphony in Three Movements was written between 1942 and 1945, and even though Stravinsky claimed that the work was not programmatic, in 1963 he linked each of the three movements to specific images from the War. If there's any influence to be heard, it's Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celestia, which the Symphony clearly echoes in two places. The Symphony has always been one of my favorite works from this composer and this is an excellent performance of it. The program closes with the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, a short early work that was written as a tribute to Debussy after that composer's death. There's nothing Debussyian about it - it's pure Stravinsky.
Ernest Ansermet's authority in the music of Stravinsky was unsurpassed. He had a close working relationship with the composer for a quarter of a century and was involved in the original productions of a number of his most significant works including The Firebird, The Rite of Spring, Petrushka, The Soldier's Tale, The Song of the Nightingale and Pulcinella. Ansermet's recordings, which were both meticulous and inspired, were the ones to have even after Stravinsky himself took up the baton.
These recordings date from 1960-61, and while they can't compete with today's state of the art sonics, they are in reasonably good stereo sound. The performances themselves are irreplaceable.