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It seems Münch also directed Roussel's 3rd and 4th Symphonies with the Orchestre de l'Association des Concert Lamoureux (Elatus, UK), released as recently as 2002.

Vic Firth, a percussionist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, said 'Münch is certainly one of the most important conductors of the 20th century: a gentleman of great elegance, he emitted boundless energy, making each of our concerts "an event, and an opportunity".'

It's worth remembering that Charles Münch established the Orchestre de Paris (1967) following the dissolution of the tongue-twisting Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire. He was invited to form the new orchestra by French Minister of Culture, André Malraux, and his music director, Marcel Landowski. Münch died the following year -- 1968.

With the Münch-founded orchestra and a brand new Ondine recording, the immediate advantage of this release is its 21st century clarity, focus and sheer ambience. Sessions with Eschenbach and the Orchestre de Paris were held at the Conservatoire de Paris (July 2005). So, in conclusion, if these symphonies are absent from your shelves, then go for it.

The First Symphony, Le Poème de la forêt [listen -- track 4, 0:00-1:51], more than 41 minutes long, is generally regarded as the composer's 'pastoral symphony' of which one commentator observed 'it may yet take its place as the third panel in the great nature triptych painted in those years by (contemporaries) French composers -- the other two panels being Debussy's La Mer and d'Indy's Jour d'été a la Montagne. Roussel's work has neither the technical mastery nor the strongly individual character of the other two, but it combines traits of both with a distinctly personal note.'

Throughout this score Eschenbach and his Parisian musicians explore its successive atmospheric features to the full.

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Copyright © 30 January 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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