Anyone who knows neither the music nor the disc should pause a moment to read this review.
Albert Roussel's piano music is an absolute joy. I have owned this disc for well over fifteen years and still play it several times every month. And I listen to the music in detail every time. There's a lot to it.
In style it's post-Impressionist. It owes a lot to Ravel, but it has a generally tougher edge to the harmony and shape. There are moments that hint of neo-classicism, but they are but moments. The music is highly coloured, but also surprisingly simple in places, always retaining a strong sense of theme through the effect. At other times there are clear modernistic moments, with Prokofiev coming to mind. But, again, Roussel's voice is also highly original and neither stylistically or inspirationally is he in anything other than himself.
Roussel's musical voice is heard nowhere near enough these days. Yes he certainly owes much to both Debussy and Ravel and, yes, he is not as obviously a talented composer as either. But his voice is wholly original. The pieces have an accuracy of statement blended with poignancy and colour that make them immediately and elegantly communicative. This really is music that you will get along with immediately, but then you will also find deeper rewards with repeated listening. If you want a starting point, then seek out the Sonatine Op16.
Eric Parkin's beautiful playing always rises well above the competent. The interpretation comes from a musician who is clearly in touch with both the technical and artistic requirements of this beautiful music.