Notes and Editorial Reviews
A great symphonic discovery in a thoughtful, superbly recorded account
The familiar exuberant Roussel style, a synthesis of Busoni-esque Young Classicality and impressionism heard here in the two suites from Bacchus et Ariane, did not come easily. His move away from a successful early manner was accelerated by the Great War and somewhat directionless when he began his Second Symphony in the summer of 1919. When completed two years later, the score showed both a leap in the dark and the crucial step towards the manner of his best known music. Yet the Second Symphony remains deep in eclipse from its two magnificent successors, despite its shimmering, multi-textured instrumentation, its moments of rapt beauty and
illustrative nature. Partly constructed in places from episodes from his abandoned opera Le roi Tobol, the symphony – Roussel’s longest – is also the most complex and elusive. Here and there are tantalising foretastes of the sound world of the Third, yet its structure lacks the latter’s clean lines, seeming more a hybrid with the symphonic fantasia: prophetic of post-Second World War symphonism.
Eschenbach’s account is strong on both atmosphere and clarity of line. He takes broader tempi than Dutoit (Teldec, 5/98), adding almost four minutes to the duration. If I marginally prefer Dutoit, Eschenbach’s interpretation has its advantages, especially when heard in Ondine’s superb sound (those with Dutoit’s 20-year-old Erato original, or the Teldec reissue, will know the sound is perfectly serviceable). The juxtaposition with the two Bacchus et Ariane concert suites (much more enjoyable than the Daphnis ones) makes for a rich programme, all brilliantly played by the Orchestre de Paris. Roussel’s symphony has lived far too long in the shadows; this disc should help bring it out into the light.
-- Guy Rickards, Gramophone [9/2006]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in B major, Op. 23 by Albert Roussel
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1919-1921; France
Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43 by Albert Roussel
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1930; France
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