Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2011

Having recently completed Naxos-label recordings of Roussel’s four symphonies, Denève is established as a major exponent of this French counterpart to Prokofiev, with his liberated harmonies, wide palette of orchestral color, and few typical notions of lyricism.

Conductors often take the locomotive rhythms of Roussel’s first movement as a cue for making much of the rest of the symphony about momentum—fine for the distinctively excitable charisma of Charles Munch (who introduced the symphony to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1957). The more cool-tempered Denève explored the symphony’s many pockets of sound while also courting a possible loss of needed cohesiveness, especially in the second movement. But who can argue with the riches he illuminated?

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2010

‘This is one of the most persuasive and idiomatic Roussel discs in the CD catalogue and I enthusiastically commend it to you.’ Words I used in a review that coupled the Second Symphony with the Suite in F and Pour une fête de printemps [8.570529]. It now forms part of a boxed set with other well reviewed issues in this complete symphony cycle. He was one of the many artists whose was emotionally and profoundly effected by the First World War, his output after that period taking on an acidic mood that did not find a ready market. Yet it was the third period, when his music took on a hard-hitting style with driving rhythms, that his music eventually found critical acclaim. His symphonies were spread across those periods and are very different in mood and texture, only the Third having entered French music’s standard repertoire. It has been a major undertaking for the French conductor, Stéphane Denève, an intuitive Roussel interpreter, who adds to the symphonies many more of the composer’s works including two extensive suites from the ballet, Bacchus et Ariane; the Sinfonietta and the emotionally charged Resurrection. Together they form an ideal compendium to the composer’s orchestral works, the playing of the Royal Scottish National is a match for the best French orchestras and the sound engineering is first class. The discs are offered in a slipcase at the price of three normal releases.

David Hurwitz, July 2010

Naxos has thoughtfully boxed up Stéphane Denève’s complete Roussel symphony cycle, thus providing an excellent excuse (once again) to give it the strongest possible recommendation and to urge you to snap it up without delay. There have been excellent individual performances of these works over the years—Munch in Nos. 3 and 4; Martinon and Eschenbach in No. 2; Bernstein in No. 3—as well as a few decent if not thrilling cycles, but none so consistently fine overall as this. Similarly, the complete Bacchus et Ariane is well served (by Tortelier on Chandos), and so is the second suite, but Denève’s interpretation ranks right up there with the best. His Scottish orchestra plays with all of the necessary gusto and rhythmic fire, and the sonics leave little or nothing to be desired. Here’s one collection with no weak links at all—you can buy all four discs together with total confidence.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group