Roussel: Symphony No.3; Le Festin de l’araignée

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Roussel
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Roussel
WORKS: Symphony No.3; Le Festin de l’araignée
PERFORMER: Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 1107-2

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The two previous releases in Christoph Eschenbach’s Roussell symphonies cycle have been outstanding. His gripping performance of Symphony No.2 in particular was revelatory. Symphony No.3 is the best known in the cycle, yet alongside Eschenbachh’s accounts of the other symphonies, nobody new to these works would guess that this is Roussel’s most popular contribution to the genre. Eschenbach’s Roussel has always been spcaious and unhurried, but here this virtue becomes a vice. The Orchestre de Paris play well, not a note out of place, and the sound is marvellous, but the firsrt movement is made simply tedious. Eschenbach is not unusual in giving the chugging motion a relentless quality. Clytens’s classic account (EMI) is powerfully driven and Stéphane Denève (Naxos) grabs the music by the scruff of the neck, but there is no doubt in either case that this is a journey worth taking. Despite the unusually energiing presence of an audience, Escenbach has the gre resignation of a Monday Morning commute, and none of the charm, sparkle and joie de vivre of Dutoit’s magical performance (Apex). More successful is the insect ballet of Le Festin de l’araignée. Eschenbach easily matches Tortelier (Chandos) and Prêtre (EMI) in this delightful, if unusual, score, finding the the flair, poetry and wit that were lacking in the Symphony.