ROUSSEL: SYMPHONIES NOS. 1-4

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One of the greatest casualties of musical life in the 21st Century, is the extraordinarily large number of composers whose works are neglected. Symphony schedules seem to rotate endlessly around a standard repertoire. If a symphony programs anything outside of the standard fare, the audiences displeasure is felt at the box office. Several record companies have taken the initiative and are increasingly releasing recordings that are not standard, but of extraordinary quality and interest. Such is the case in the complete recordings of Albert Roussels Symphonies by Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre National de France on the Erato Label. Here is a composer whose breath of imagination is staggering and whose works are ingenuous.

All of these symphonies are amazing by any standard, each portraying a different epoch in this great artists vision. The Third Symphony has remained Roussels most popular symphony; written for the Boston Symphony and debuted in 1930. The anger and brutality of the opening movement evaporates into a lyrical flute melody, which does much to bring the opening into focus. The second movement opens with the flute (which has calmed the savage beast in the opening movement), but this opening quickly evolves into one of Roussel's most passionate melodies. A playful finale concludes one of Roussel's most endearing works.

The opening of the second Symphony touches the soul, seemingly beginning from the depths of absolute sorrow. As the music rises an image of the human conditions stands before us, beaten, and bloody, but undaunted and determined to prevail. In contrast to the drama of the first movement the second movement optimistically rejoices, but this is not a game for the naive. The cutting edge of sarcasm, like black flies on a hot summers day, sting and annoy the festive atmosphere. The third Symphony ends, as it must, with a return to the angst and pain of the opening movement. The tension builds until a theme of pompous resolve erupts and brings the symphony to resolution.

If youve never heard the symphonies of Albert Roussel, just listening to the sound clips of this review will certainly leave little doubt that not only was he the greatest French symphonist of the 20th Century, but among the greatest symphonists in music history.

By RV. Zimmerman

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Specifications

Music Genre
Classical
Performer
Orchestre National De France
manufacturer_part_number
roussel:
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
5.00 x 1.00 x 6.00 Inches
Release Date
06/08/1999

Track Listing

1.
Symphony No.1 In D Minor/D-Moll Op.7 'Le Poeme De La Foret' - Foret D'Hiver
2.
Symphony No.1 In D Minor/D-Moll Op.7 'Le Poeme De La Foret' - Renouvea
3.
Symphony No.1 In D Minor/D-Moll Op.7 'Le Poeme De La Foret' - Soir D'Ete
4.
Symphony No.1 In D Minor/D-Moll Op.7 'Le Poeme De La Foret' - Faunes Et Dryades
5.
Symphony No.3 In G Minor/G-Moll Op.42 - Allegro Vivo
6.
Symphony No.3 In G Minor/G-Moll Op.42 - Adagio
7.
Symphony No.3 In G Minor/G-Moll Op.42 - Scherzo (Vivace)
8.
Symphony No.3 In G Minor/G-Moll Op.42 - Allegro Con Spirito
9.
Symphony No.2 In B-Flat Major/B-Dur Op.23 - Lent
10.
Symphony No.2 In B-Flat Major/B-Dur Op.23 - Modere
11.
Symphony No.2 In B-Flat Major/B-Dur Op.23 - Tres Lent
12.
Symphony No.4 In A Major/A-Dur Op.53 - Lento - Allegro Con Brio
13.
Symphony No.4 In A Major/A-Dur Op.53 - Lento Molto
14.
Symphony No.4 In A Major/A-Dur Op.53 - Allegro Scherzando
15.
Symphony No.4 In A Major/A-Dur Op.53 - Allegro Molto

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