Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Roussel The Spider's Banquet & Padmâvatî

Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Stephane Denève

Naxos 8.572243

There have been complete recordings of The Spider's Banquet by this team [no longer available] and of Padmâvatî (with serious reservations); this release of the Suites from both ballets is welcome and includes some of the most characteristic and delightful earlier music of Roussel.

With splendid recording and descriptive notes by Richard Whitehouse it is self recommending to this composer's addictive admirers, amongst which I include myself.

ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2 / Pour une fete de printemps / Suite in F major
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Denève
Naxos: 8.570529

One of my favourite composers, who has never quite achieved the secure place in the UK repertoire he merits. His second symphony is quite a rarity and its expansive progress (3 movements, 43 minutes) encompasses wide variety of expression. A gorgeous piece which I have played through several times, with undiminished pleasure.

The concise Suite of four years later (1926) is characteristic of his economy and tense thrust, and room is found for a symphonic poem which"might be thought of as preparation for the larger work" (Richard Whitehouse).

Very satisfying performances under a conductor who is clearly in sympathy with this sometimes idiosyncratic composer and makes the most of the music's twists and turns. Well packed at 69 mins, this is another very desirable bargain release.

Symphony No. 4/ Rapsodie flamande/ Petite Suite / Concert pour petit orchestre / Sinfonietta for string orchestra

RSNO / Denève
Naxos - 8572135

A companion disc, released in early 2010, this is perhaps a first choice for collectors who are not, yet, Roussel addicts.

With Symphony No 4 and a clutch of favourites plus one rarity, the Rapsodie Flamande, it is a disc that I found myself playing straight through, with analloyed pleasure. In live performances, you'll be lucky to come across even one of these piquant works in a year of concertgoing. There must be very few composers whose identity is staped so firmly and unmistakably upn each of his mature works.

Denève has made a corner of his own here, performances and recording quality are exceptional, and the disc is supported by voluminous notes from Richard Whitehouse.

Peter Grahame Woolf