There seems to be a stigma surrounding new music that prevents many audiences from ever experiencing the sheer passion and beauty that is often created by today's many gifted composers. Fortunately, Christopher Rouse's music is heard relatively often, which is a blessing for both the composer and the listener.
The "Symphony #1" is one of Rouse's most tonal pieces. It was composed shortly after the extremely dissonant, atonal, and fast-paced "Gorgon"--Rouse describes the two as a "yin and yang to each other". Therefore, the aim of this piece is an adagio and tonal (though still dissonant, but do you expect otherwise from Rouse?) piece. The tonality is often blurred, but certain recurring melodic and rhythmic motives enrapture the listener. Rouse infuses too much passion and emotion into the score to solicit any loss of interest. In short, it's difficult to get bored during the 24 minutes that make up this piece.
"Phantasmata", on the other hand, is less emotionally taxing and more fun. It is a much more dissonant piece, which may turn off some listeners, but if you don't mind that sort of thing, this piece shouldn't be missed either.
I can't really comment on the performance, since there are no other recordings I know of that I can compare it with, but the Baltimore Symphony does justice to the demanding score.
It's a keeper.