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Francis Pott
BBC Music Magazine, February 2019

Roussel’s Third Symphony offers punchy neo-classicism at full symphonic length. Written in 1931 to celebrate the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary, it is a work of considerable excitement balanced with emotional depth. Well worth investigating. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Stéphane Denève offers follows up his first Roussel disc for Naxos with excellent accounts of these other two wonderful works. The performances are lively and invigorating, with all the sensuous elements brought out fully in the ballet as well as its rhythmic drive. The dense textures of Roussel’s scores can be tricky to capture on CD, but the recordings offer excellent detail within a warm and nicely reverberant acoustic. Listening again to the masterful Third Symphony, one wonders why it is so scandalously neglected in the concert hall.

Adrian Corleonis
Fanfare, November 2007

Conductor Stéphane Denève, a new and startling presence on the international scene, divines Roussel at the top of his surefire bent with such exquisite savoir faire that after his rendering of Bacchus et Ariane you may feel that you’ve never really heard it before.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

Adrian Corleonis
Fanfare, November 2007

Here is Roussel at the top of his surefire bent, and it’s easy to score—many have—by simply keeping things moving. Indeed, the Third Symphony here receives a rattlingly brioso performance. …Denève’s dimpling of nuance is achieved without sacrifice of momentum, while the great climaxes and corybantic sprints attain genuine grandeur by emerging not as effects but from the narrative logic of the Symphony, Bacchus’s looming revelation. …sound is clear and close, spacious but never recessed, capturing the Royal Scots’s lovingly shaped solos, incisive playing, superb ensemble, and glowing orchestral color with an ideal balance of immediacy and platform depth. Enthusiastically recommended. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review

Julian Haylock
Classic FM, August 2007

Roussel's ballet Bacchus et Ariane proved so popular in the 1920s that the composer was able to extract two suites from it, one from each act. Denève conducts the RSNO through both, shaping the story with a sensuous arm, freeing the dances and seeking out the nuances in Roussel's rich instrumentation. Denève does justice to a dazzling piece of work, fresh and vigorous, a mix of Stravinskyian rhythms and Debussyian colours. He begins the symphony, however, rather too quickly; the steady build-up seems over-eager and the long subsequent Adagio withdrawn as a result. Still, overall, this is a thrilling reminder of an underperformed composer.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2007

Having started life with a career in the navy, Albert Roussel was almost 30 before he began full-time study as a composer. Though welcomed as a major new voice in French music at the opening of the 20th century, he was never to enjoy the popular success of his compatriots, Debussy and Ravel, though his early scores, including the luscious material for the first symphony, were highly approachable. He was also one of many composers whose music dramatically changed as a direct result of the effects of the First World War, his output becoming more acerbic before he eventually reached the third period of his career where we find hard-hitting and driving rhythms presented in primary colours. Both works on this disc come from this later period having dated from 1930, and had he lived long enough to champion them they may well have found a permanent repertoire place. The Third is certainly played more than his other symphonies, the creamy slow movement being the most extensive section and leading to a powerful and often noisy finale. Roussel must have eyed the success being enjoyed by Stravinsky and Prokofiev with their highly charged and colourful ballets, his Bacchus et Ariane being his French equivalent. He was later to make two suites, which, as with this disc, are often described as his complete ballet. It's not far from the truth as all that is important is here, the Second Suite being one of his better known pieces. The young French conductor, Stephane Deneve, obtains vigorous performances from the Scottish orchestra, with the full quota of vivid climaxes in the symphony's finale, and an absolute orgy for the ballet's conclusion. For the symphony I remain wedded to an ancient recording with Charles Munch and the French National Orchestra now difficult to find, but this is a reliable modern alternative. Good sound.

David Hurwitz, May 2007

This disc recalls the heady days of Munch and Bernstein in this music. Stéphane Denève, music director of the RSNO since 2005, plays Roussel's music to the manner born (he was, of course, but you never know--remember Prêtre?). The first movement of the Third Symphony revels in its unbridled rhythmic thrust, while Denève wrings every drop of bittersweet poignancy from the slow movement, capping it off with the most intense and powerful climax you will ever hope to hear. The remainder of the symphony, ebullient and sparkling, with the finale emerging seamlessly from the quiet ending of the scherzo, caps a performance that's just about perfect.

Bacchus et Ariane--the two suites presented here constitute the entire ballet--has just as much fervor and brilliance. From the opening bars the orchestra plays like a pack of demons, and this makes the more melting and lyrical bits all the more moving. The opening of the Second Suite has that same feeling of deep nostalgia as does the slow movement of the symphony, and in the final Bacchanal Denève whips up an orchestral fury the likes of which we haven't heard in this piece since Munch. What makes the performance so special is that all of this excitement never compromises precision of execution, or that special sparkle and lightness of touch that we have come to regard as quintessentially French. This team looks set to become a major musical force, and a genuine star of the Naxos catalog. Keep it coming, please!

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