Bacchus et Ariane : Work information

Albert (Charles Paul Marie) Roussel ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Orchestre de Bordeaux-Aquitaine, Roberto Benzi (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Bacchus et Ariane
Work number
Op. 43
1930-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Ivan Pastor
Jean-Martial Golaz
Recording date
1984-01-01 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Act II - Introduction 19:32 min


Albert Roussel's sumptuous ballet Bacchus et Ariane was written in 1930 and first produced in Paris on 22 May 1931 with choreography by Serge Lifar. Relating the events in Greek myth after Ariadne helps Theseus escape from the Minotaur and is wooed by the god Bacchus, the ballet is a powerful rhythmic score that has been compared with Debussy's Jeux and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe in its importance to French ballet.

The work is generally heard in the form of two concert suites, premiered in 1933 and 1934, that correspond with Acts I and II respectively. The second suite has proved the more popular due to its exciting ending. Powerful, rhythmic, natural, and eminently danceable, Bacchus is a thrilling ballet that perhaps deserves a higher profile place in the repertoire than it currently enjoys.

The Composers

Albert (Charles Paul Marie) Roussel

Roussel lost both his parents as a child, and so was brought up by his grandfather, mayor of Tourcoing, the town of his birth.  His study of mathematics led to a career in the navy, which he joined in 1889, travelling widely and absorbing much of the Indo-Chinese culture to which he was exposed.  He resigned in 1894 to study music in Paris with Eugene Gigout, entering the Schola Cantorum in 1898.  There he studied under d'Indy until 1907, and his first major works date from this period, while already in his mid-thirties.

From 1902 he had taught counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum, taking leave to revisit India in 1909.  The outbreak of war in 1914 led him to volunteer for conscription, but at 45 he was considered too old and acted instead as an ambulance driver.  After the war he settled in Normandy until his death in 1937.

Originally influenced by French Impressionism, Roussel later came to embrace the prevalent Neo-Classicism with light orchestration, finely-wrought structures and a parallel flirtation with the jazz idiom.