France’s symphonic tradition may not compare to the immensity of Germany’s, but it has produced a number of impressive works. This release is dedicated to those by Albert Roussel, one of classical music’s most distinguished late-starters.
The compilation begins with the delightful Poème de la forêt – Roussel’s first great work of importance and one whose strong Impressionist flavour is revealed through the use of picturesque movement titles. From the Second Symphony’s powerful proportions to No.3’s cyclic nature, we encounter a composer whose music was beginning to harbour a fierce and concentrated energy. His final work in the genre, written three years before his death in 1937, represents for many the apex of his achievements.
Roussel may never have gained the popularity of Debussy and Ravel, but he was an important and compelling composer whose symphonies combined both 20th-century style and colour with Classical structures. Tracing the entire development of his style, this assured recording by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France brings Roussel’s distinctive voice to life.
“It is Janowski’s exquisite nuancing of melody (timing as well as shaping) that catches the ear as often as the correctly achieved balances, the purity of tone and the general limpidity of the sound.”
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