Roussel: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Bacchus & Ariane: Suite No. 2; Sinfonietta

Neeme Järvi

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Roussel: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4; Bacchus & Ariane: Suite No. 2; Sinfonietta Review

by Blair Sanderson

Although Albert Roussel's rewarding music has long been praised by critics and has undergone periodic revivals, it has yet to find the popularity it so richly deserves. The equal of Debussy and Ravel, but more conservative and classically restrained in temperament, Roussel appears to have been neglected only because of changing tastes, not through any fault of his music. This 1995 Chandos compilation restores to the catalog Neeme Järvi's solid performances of the Symphony No. 3 in G minor and the Symphony No. 4 in A major, two seriously under-recorded masterpieces. Leading the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in some of its finest playing, Järvi renders the symphonies with clarity and consistent vigor, and balances their orchestral opulence with their formal needs. While these readings may not be as worthy as the legendary performances by Charles Münch and André Cluytens, they are respectable efforts and welcome in the dearth of good recordings. The colorfully orchestrated Suite No. 2 from Bacchus et Ariane and the neo-classical Sinfonietta for string orchestra are delightful works, but less persuasive than the symphonies, which are clearly the album's most compelling offerings. The recording is clear and resonant most of the time, but a fairly high volume setting is needed to hear the softest passages.

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