One of Roussel’s most performed orchestral works, Le Festin de l’araignée (The Spider’s Banquet) was composed during his earlier impressionistic period, and depicts the beauty and violence of insect life in a garden. Roussel’s experiences as a lieutenant in the French Navy first introduced him to Eastern influences, and the ‘opera-ballet’ Padmâvatî was inspired by his later visit to the ancient city of Chittor in Rajasthan state of western India. It uses aspects of Indian music to evoke this city’s legendary siege by the Mongols. This is the fifth and final volume in Stéphane Denève and the RSNO’s acclaimed survey of Roussel’s orchestral works.

Roussel’s balletic exposé of seething life in the insect world receives a vibrant performance from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Stéphane Denève… The music, which is couched in Roussel’s own brand of impressionism, is radiantly orchestrated and, through its descriptive powers, holds its own without the visual elements that a staged performance would provide. Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone, March 2012


This final installment provides a worthy and memorable conclusion to the series. In the first place, the two suites from Roussel’s magnificent opera-ballet Pâdmavatî are all but unknown, either in concert or on disc. They are wonderful, not least because the obligatory touches of Eastern exoticism are fully integrated into Roussel’s personal idiom. All of his music, even the lightest or the most purely tactile and voluptuous, has substance.

Denève has an unerring feel for Roussel’s idiom, for that combination of rhythmic drive, precision of accent, and elegant phrasing that somehow seems both personal to this composer as well as quintessentially French. Beyond that, he gets excellent, truly refined playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and he’s expertly recorded. Essential. David Hurwitz,


Naxos Recording 8.572243

Stéphane Denève

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Recorded at the Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow on 4/5 October 2010

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