- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted October 1, 2010
When I studied with Nadia Boulanger at the Conservatoire de Fontainebleau, she was about 86 years old and told the most wonderful stories about composers then dead. Albert Roussel figured large in her lexicon, his 3rd and 4th symphonies being considered by her as neoclassical masterpieces.
Although his symphonic music has been fairly represented on record and CD over the years, I cannot recall coming across a concert with his music on the program in the USA. Pity. His music is very good and the last two symphonies certainly deserve to be in the orchestral repertoire. But it is not easy being a French composer and a contemporary of Ravel and Debussy.
This CD is a continuation of the excellent NAXOS Roussel series with Stéphane Denève conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. On it are Roussel's often dark and brooding Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 53 and his relatively brief Sinfonietta, Op 52, both excellent works from his late maturity.
The earlier Petite Suite, Op. 39 and Concert for Small Orchestra, Op. 34 are delightful and spirited works, beautifully orchestrated, with dreamy slow movements somewhat reminiscent of Debussy, Ravel and Fauré.
The Rhapsodie Flamande, Op. 56 is the only work that I find less than wonderful, but it is interesting enough and in the company of his great fourth Symphony and the other pieces on the disc serves to round out the view of his
The performances are first rate.
It is interesting to note that Bohuslav Martinu was a pupil of Roussel's in Paris. In listening to this music, one can recognize elements of the master's style that appear in the younger man's music.
This is a modestly priced CD that is worth every penny.