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In the more concise, powerful, and engaging 4th Symphony, appealing rhythms carry the music forward though the second movement -- Lento molto -- is apt to meander toward its somewhat grandiose twin climaxes. Again Eschenbach welds the score together with obvious assurance [listen -- track 8, 2:41-4:00].

There's no doubting Roussel's fluent (sometimes inspired) orchestration, his sense of purpose, the fund of ideas and both scores' immediate accessibility. Beside that these are far better than simply acceptable recordings/performances. So why do I find the music so 'ho-hum'?

I don't doubt I'm raising the ire of avid Rousselians. Oh well; guess it's my long-standing addiction to such as Scarlatti, Schubert, Sibelius, Shostakovitch, Schnittke, Sondheim; and the '3 Bs'.

Between you and me, tops among my personal de rigeur French composers are Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, his oft-maligned countryman, Camille Saint-Saëns, Massenet, and doyen of irrepressible 'champagne operettas' -- Jacques Offenbach. Whoops, I almost forgot -- Debussy too.

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


Roussel: Symphonies Nos 1 and 4

ODE 1092-2 Stereo NEW RELEASE 66'53" 2007 Ondine Inc

Orchestre de Paris; Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Albert Roussel (1869-1937): Symphony No 1 Op 7 'Le Poème de la forêt' (Forêt d'hiver; Renouveau; Soir d'été; Faunes et dryades); Symphony No 4 Op 35 (Lento - Allegro con brio; Lento molto; Allegro scherzando; Allegro molto)


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