by Albert Roussel -
'... heady music-making of highest calibre.'
Like Rimsky-Korsakov a quarter-century earlier, Roussel was a serving naval officer. Unlike Rimsky, who remained in the service till he was forty, though increasingly land-based and eventually responsible only for naval bands, Roussel was a midshipman for seven years and circumnavigated the globe in the frigate Iphigénie, but broke loose for full-time music-study when only twenty-five. Both composers were conscious of the need for secure technical grounding, and both became supreme masters of their craft as well as admirable instructors of others.
The three works on this disc (Naxos 8.570529) span the first post-1919 decade, after Roussel's war service as an ambulance driver on the Western Front. Roussel did not immediately discard the impressionism that had hitherto served him so well, and much of the Second Symphony has a haunting elusiveness that shows little sympathy for Europe's brave new world. The opening Lent eventually stirs itself into rhythmic life, and the movement's dialectic is in train.
Listen -- Lent (Symphony No 2)
(track 1, 7:00-8:41) © 2008 Naxos Rights International Ltd
Copyright © 18 June 2008
Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt