Petite suite

Albert Roussel

Petite suite

Op. 39

About this work

Albert Roussel's delightful and witty Petite Suite is, understandably, one of the composer's most popular works. The first and last movements, "Aubade" and "Mascerade," respectively, were written in the first half of 1929; the slower central movement, "Pastorale," was added later. This compact work is a fine introduction to the characteristic qualities of Roussel's music. The Suite opens with an energetic, thrusting rhythmic figure; its 10/8 meter (divided 3+3+2+2) produces an off-kilter quality. The Aubade is further marked by sensuous melodicism and brilliant yet subtle orchestration; figures in the flute are said to represent the calls of birds outside the composer's residence. A transitional passage by the horn leads into a supplicating melody in the oboe. The central movement is more passionate, spiced by Roussel's distinctive harmonic sense. The Mascerade, bustling with rhythmic vigor and sparkling orchestration, brings the Suite to a joyous, if somewhat abrupt, close.