JACQUES IBERT (1890-1962) Piano
Scherzetto. Piece romantique. Toccata sur le nom d'Albert Roussel.
L'espiegle au village de Lilliput. Francaise. Le vent dans les ruines.Petite
Suite. Histoires. Les rencontres.
Hae-won Chang (piano).
Naxos 8.554720 [DDD]
Recorded in September 1991 and originally issued in 1992 on Naxos' costlier
sister label Marco Polo (as 8.223409), here is a second chance to sample
this rarely heard repertoire. And perhaps to sample is indeed the best way
to enjoy this survey of Ibert's pianistic output - to take a couple of
free-standing pieces, then perhaps one of the larger collections as the mood
takes you. At over 70 minutes, a straight run-through can become laborious,
even given such dedicated playing as this. Chang is alive to the various
discernible influences, principally Debussy and Poulenc, and also demonstrates
an admirable and entirely apt sense of restraint - only occasionally (for
example, the first movement of the 'Petite Suite') does she become over-literal.
The disc begins with six miniatures (of which one, 'Francaise', was originally
written for guitar). 'Le vent dans les ruines' ('The wind over the ruins')
of 1915 is particularly effective, a delicate sister to Debussy's Prelude,
'Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest'. The opening 'Scherzetto' is wittily quirky,
whilst the brief (58 seconds!) 'Toccata sur le nom d'Albert Roussel' provides
a spiky contrast. Of the three sets, 'Les rencontres' ('Encounters') is the
most interesting. This was written in 1921-4 and is subtitled, 'Little Suite
in the form of a Ballet' (it was used as such by Nijinska in the following
year). Ibert's pianistic imagination seems particularly fertile here, 'Les
mignardes' ('The precious girls') especially successful in its Debussian
evocations and dynamic swells.
The 'Petite Suite' in 'Fifteen Picures' is more variable - the opening 'Prelude'
is rather drab, 'Parade' is somewhat uninspired, and yet 'La
machine a coudre' ('The sewing machine') is charming and the concluding 'Danse
du cocher' ('Cabman's Dance') is playfully Stravinskian - Chang at last lets
her hair down here. 'Histoires' ('Stories') is the laongest collection, running
to nearly 22 minutes. 'Le petit ane blanc' ('The little white donkey') is
likely to be the most familiar movement, and is certainly the most frequently
excerpted. Of interest also is the Hispanically-titled 'Bajo la mesa' ('Under
the table'), strikingly close to de Falla.
An interesting and stimulating offering, then. The recording, fittingly,
is light and spacious. Good to see this at super-budget price.