Neeme Jarvi conducts Ibert
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Cat No: CHSA5168
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 1st April 2016
Hommage a Mozart
Ouverture de fete
Sarabande pour Dulcinee
Suite symphonique (Scenes parisiennes)
ArtistsOrchestre de la Suisse Romande
Among the numerous winners of the famous Prix de Rome between its institution by Napoleon in 1803 and its abandonment in 1968, the twentieth century provides us with repertoire works from only one composer: Jacques Ibert, whose characteristically clear orchestration is emphasised by strong melodic lines and supported by lively ostinato patterns in the bass. At the same time, the album reveals what an eclectic composer Ibert was. The contrast between his two best-known pieces is a perfect example: Divertissement, for small orchestra, is light-hearted, even frivolous; Escales..., on the other hand, is a ripely romantic work for large orchestra.
Like the previous recordings in this series, the unique acoustic of Geneva’s Victoria Hall is perfectly captured in surround sound on this SACD.
1Escales... - Rome-Palerme
2Escales... - Tunis-Nefta
3Escales... - Valence
4Sarabande pour Dulcinee
5Ouverture de fete
7Divertissement - I. Introduction
8Divertissement - II. Cortege
9Divertissement - III. Nocturne
10Divertissement - IV. Valse
11Divertissement - V. Parade
12Divertissement - VI. Finale
13Hommage a Mozart
14Suite symphonique 'Paris' - I. Le Metro
15Suite symphonique 'Paris' - II. Faubourgs
16Suite symphonique 'Paris' - III. La Mosquee de Paris
17Suite symphonique 'Paris' - IV. Restaurant au Bois de Boulogne
18Suite symphonique 'Paris' - V. Le Paquebot
19Suite symphonique 'Paris' - VI. Parade Foraine
The programme gets off to a splendid start with the beautifully atmospheric Escales..... (‘Ports of Call’, 1922), a Mediterranean travelogue composed in the wake of Ibert’s Prix de Rome triumph. From the impressionistic opening, via exotic North African melodies, to the concluding thinly-veiled reference to Chabrier’s España, this is a dazzling orchestral showpiece which strikes just the right balance between the opulent and the carefree, the disciplined and the relaxed.
The other well-known work here is the deliciously tongue-in-cheek Divertissement (1930), an adaptation by Ibert of his incidental music to Labiche’s farcical comedy Un Chapeau de paille d’Italie. The high jinks get under way immediately, with a trombone glissando launching proceedings and piano and percussion lending a cabaret-like feel. Even the Cortège movement can’t escape a mocking reference to Mendelssohn’s celebrated Wedding March, while the last two movements are a real riot. In a similar vein is the Suite symphonique ‘Paris’ of the same year (another compilation from incidental music), skilfully evoking a variety of Parisian sights and sounds, from the Métro and a mosque to a restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne, once again ending in irrepressible high spirits.
Interlaced between these more substantial works is a selection of occasional and shorter pieces: the brilliantly scored Féerique (1924); the exquisite Sarabande pour Dulcinée (1932); the Ouverture de fête of 1940 (a kind of French Academic Festival Overture composed to mark 2,600 years of the Japanese empire); and a pair of 1956 compositions celebrating the Mozart bicentenary and the tenth anniversary of the BBC Third Programme (Bacchanale). The Hommage à Mozart features some immaculate rococo pastiche, while the Bacchanale was perhaps intended to cock a snook at the stuffy British - it certainly ends the disc in ebullient style.
Under the experienced baton of Neeme Järvi, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande clearly have a whale of a time, and this is a worthy addition to Järvi’s popular series of recordings of the lighter repertoire, guaranteed to please. Attractive presentation, excellent liner notes from Roger Nichols, and a sumptuous recording made in Geneva’s Victoria Hall all add up to an irresistible package.
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