Roussel, Albert: Trio for flute, viola, and cello

ALBERT ROUSSEL began his compositional career while at sea, serving in the Navy. As the story goes, the 25-year-old Roussel played one of his compositions for a group of officers on the ship’s piano, and, on the advice of a fellow sailor whose brother was an opera singer, he resigned his commission to pursue a career in music. He finished his musical studies at the age of 39. Roussel’s late start and naval debut were unusual, but his studies were rigorous, and he became both a master at couinterpoint and a unique compositional voice. While his music certainly reflects the strong impressionist currents of his day, it is far more formally centered. (Roussel’s tendency toward formal rigor may be somewhat reflected by his recreational interest in mathematics.) The trio, op. 40, is a beautiful example of what Roussel called ‘a music willed and realized for its own sake’: abstract, colored, cyclic, and unique.

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