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Cat. No. CHAN 10217 X Price: £4 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10217 - Roussel: Symphony No. 3/ Bacchus et Ariane/Sinfonietta
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Available From: 14 June 2004
Albert Roussel was a latecomer to symphonic composition, indeed to music as a career. He was nearly thirty when, in 1898, he enrolled at the new Schola Cantorum, where he studied rigorous models of music such as Bach and Palestrina under the direction of Vincent d’Indy.

Important as Roussel’s first two symphonies were, they never quite established the foothold in the repertoire found by Symphony No. 3, commissioned for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Roussel composed it between August 1929 and March 1930 and reckoned, at the time, that it was the best thing he had ever done. The powerful Symphony No. 4 is remarkable for its economy of material and the subtle translucence of its orchestration. Its third movement is a scherzo of Mendelssohnian lightness where a full percussion battery is on call but used with lighthearted discretion. The finale is one such as Haydn might have written had he lived in the twentieth century; swift-footed and full of gentle surprises.

The musicologist John Manduell considered ‘discipline and elegance’ to be the hallmarks of Roussel’s symphonic style. These qualities can also be observed in miniature in the Sinfonietta which was completed in 1934.

Roussel’s ballet music for Bacchus et Ariane has reached a wider audience through the two orchestral suites he extracted from it. Suite No. 2 closely follows the scenario of Act Two when Ariadne awakes on the Isle of Naxos to find that she has been abandoned by Theseus. In despair she tries to fling herself into the sea, but she is rescued by Bacchus who makes her immortal with a kiss. Everyone dances a wild bacchanale as Bacchus crowns Ariadne with stars.
Reviews

Neeme Järvis account of the Third Symphony has an engaging vitality and character and the playing of the Detroit orchestra is highly responsive… very recommendable, given the superior sound and Järvis obvious enthusiasm for this repertoire
The Penguin Complete Guide to Compact Discs

 

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