Overture de Fete (1940)
Symphonie marine (1931)
L'Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux
- Yutaka Sado
recorded 29th and 30th April 1996 at La Salle Pleyel,
Paris (live and studio
Naxos 8.554222 [71.20]
Jacque Ibert is perceived by many as the epitome of an early 20th
Century French composer - apart from Messrs. Debussy and Ravel - plenty of
froth and not much substance. This disc goes some way to dispelling the myth
and is one of only a few discs to give us more substance than we usually
get. Given that the price is so low, is it worth adding to your collection?
With one or two provisos, the answer to this question is an emphatic yes.
Ibert spent most of his creative life writing a large catalogue of works,
greater than many would think. He completed in addition to the works on this
disc, three concerti, two symphonies, six symphonic poems, ten orchestral
suites taken from his numerous stage works. His complete catalogue numbers
121 separate items. Of all these, the Divertissement is the most popular,
followed by Escales and Overture de fete. The current catalogue only list
sixteen orchestral works, and there are competitive versions of all the current
items, but not collected together on one disc.
Most of the competition comes from well known French conductors, such as
Fremaux, Martinon and Munch, or adoptive French music specialists such as
Dutoit. The present collection is extremely well played and can hold its
head up well in this company.
The Lamoureux Orchestra has an illustrious past, and recorded extensively
in the 50's and 60's for DGG when it had Igor Markevitch as its chief conductor.
Those who cherish recordings made in this era will be a little disappointed
with the present disc, for the playing has lost the elan and brightness which
it showed in abundance in those days.
Allied to this, the recording, made in the Salle Pleyel, one of Paris's premier
recording venues, is somewhat recessed and dim. This reduces some of the
sparkle and wit which is so necessary in this music.
For instance, if we compare Sado's performance of the Divertissement with
that as recorded by Martinon on Decca, the difference is quite marked. While
there is nothing to complain severely about with the Naxos, the Decca recording
is a riot, and I am sure, much more what Ibert would have wanted.
Similarly Munch's recording of Escales is more alive although in this case
even though the recording is much older (1956) the whole effect is much better.
In summary therefore, this disc is quite clearly for those who want this
programme as a one disc collection, and as such it is a very good offering.
By buying separately however, you can do better, although it will damage
your pocket more.