Classical CD Reviews

ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Bacchus et Ariane ballet suites Nos. 1 & 2 – Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach – Ondine ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Pour une fete de printemps; Suite in F – Royal Scottish Nat. Orch./Stéphane Deneve – Naxos

Both fine versions; choice dependent on filler selections

Published on May 22, 2008

ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Bacchus et Ariane ballet suites Nos. 1 & 2 – Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach – Ondine 
ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Pour une fete de printemps; Suite in F – Royal Scottish Nat. Orch./Stéphane Deneve – Naxos
ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Bacchus et Ariane ballet suites Nos. 1 & 2 – Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach – Ondine 
ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Pour une fete de printemps; Suite in F – Royal Scottish Nat. Orch./Stéphane Deneve – Naxos
ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Bacchus et Ariane ballet suites Nos. 1 & 2 – Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach – Ondine ODE 1065-2, 77:58 **** [Distr. by Universal]:

ALBERT ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2; Pour une fete de printemps; Suite in F – Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Stéphane Deneve – Naxos 8.570529, 68:43 ****:

An important figure in French music, Roussel was also a pedagogue who influenced such varied composers as Satie and Varese.  He lived until 1937 and his works are often heard – perhaps more frequently in Europe than in the U.S.  His Second Symphony is a dense three-movement work with the first and third movements beginning very slowly and quietly, and the shorter center movement being more active and lighter in nature.  The work actually bears as much connection to the massive symphonies of Bruckner as it does to the typical French symphony.

The Bacchus and Ariane ballet music is similar in its scenario and costumes to Ravel’s better-known Daphnis and Chloe. It has more of a tragic note and is more low-key but yet colorful and sensuous in its nature. The Suite in F is a more modern-sounding neo-classic work but also with dance connections: three movements labeled Prelude, Sarabande and Gigue.

Deciding between the two competing versions of the symphony would be tres difficile. Both are fine performances in excellent sonics, with perhaps a slight nod to the French orchestra’s familiarity with the French repertory.  However, the Scottish ensemble’s previous Naxos CD was Roussel’s Symphony No. 3, so this effort is not a one-shot.  Your choice would probably depend on which filler work most interested you, as well as the lower price of the Naxos CD.

 - John Sunier




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