After many years of neglect by the record companies, Albert Roussel's orchestral music seems to be coming into its own. There are currently excellent low-price recordings of the Third Symphony -- his most popular; the one commissioned in 1930 for the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony, along with Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms -- by such artists as Cluytens/Colonne onEMI, Dutoit/Orchestre National de France on Apex/Warner, and Järvi/Detroit on Chandos Classics. His 'Bacchus et Ariane' ballet is slightly less well-represented, especially the complete score (arranged by Roussel into two suites that are simply Acts I & II), but there are competing versions by Järvi/Detroit and Yan Pascal Tortelier/BBC Philharmonic. What's more, most of these competing versions are also offered at budget price. So what's a person to do?
Well, as much as I like this new version by Stéphane Denève and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, I must cast my vote for the EMI which only costs a couple of dollars more for 2 CDs containing the Symphonies Nos. 2, 3 and 4, as well as one of the Bacchus Suites, the Festin de l'Araignée, and the Sinfonietta. Granted, they are older recordings but they have been very nicely remastered and sound terrific. Further, the French orchestras led by Cluytens, Prêtre and Dervaux play gorgeously throughout. I imagine that Denève and RSNO (of which he has been the music director for a couple of years now) will record more of Roussel's orchestral output but the cash outlay will be significantly more for the amount of music presented. And as far as that's concerned, I thought the sound on this new recording was just a little cloudy and with the brass sometimes drowning the strings.