A funny thing happened to me recently. I got a CD of Roussel's Third and Fourth Symphonies, with Charles Munch and the Orchestre de Concerts Lamoureux, as a MusicWeb reviewing assignment. And lo and behold, a technical glitch had resulted in the tracks getting switched up so that the Fourth Symphony played as follows:
I. Lento - Allegro con brio
III. Allegro scherzando
IV. Allegro molto
II. Lento molto
And I think this has actually ruined the symphony for me. Now I see the symphony as just "reusing the formula of the Third": plugging different tunes into the same framework. Why? Because having the slow movement at the end sounds so much better! Try it for yourself. The sheer bouncy energy of the three consecutive allegros gets you absolutely dying for something slow, like a man in a desert looking for water, and then the gorgeous lento molto comes along and wrings out every drop of melancholy and lyrical beauty and grace and a whole host of other things lacking in the first three movements. And the way the lento ends... like Schubert's Unfinished, it seemed to be floating off into the ether, impossible to follow up.
So there it is. I like the Fourth Symphony better when it's in the wrong order. Part of me was tempted not to warn the record company (High Def Tape Transfers) about the glitch, so more customers could enjoy the surprise. (But I did warn them.) I won't be reprogramming the CD player to set things right, that's for sure.