Bacchanale (1956) [8.20]
Divertissement (1928) [16.47]
Ouverture de Fete (1940) [15.57]
Symphonie Marine (1931) [14.25]
Escales (1922) [15.45]
Orchestre des Concerts
(recorded live and in studio at Salle Pleyel, Paris, 29-30 April 1996)
The vertiginous headlong flight
of Bacchanale has a machine age propulsion under its steely wings
owing much to Honegger, Prokofiev, Khachaturyan and Mossolov. It relaxes
in Monagesque elegance amid the nodding potplants in the moderato assai.
The work was written for the tenth anniversary of the BBC Third Programme.
The Ouverture has a strong fugal element which casts a dryish academic
pall over the first 3 minutes, giving place to an overblown soaring section
for brass and strings before returning to the fugal japes.
The Symphonie Marine combines a pounding energy with impressionistic
delicacy. It is dramatic pictorial stuff fitted out with some attractive
saxophone solos. This is as befits the symphony's cinematic origins: Jean
Arroy's short film 'SOS Foch' - a tale of shipwreck and disaster.
Escales envisions the sultry hothouse of Mediterranean 'ports of
call'. The Rome-Palermo section is heavily indebted to Ravel especially
Rapsodie Espagnole. The Tunisian heat of the central panel sways
in sinuous self-absoprtion - a Gallic Beni Mora. If Valencia lacks
the babbling excitement and intoxocation of Munch's classic recording it
is only by a shade. It remains highy enjoyable in a way typical of Massenet
Divertissement is hectically flighty, as scatty as Satie's
Parade in the Rossinian valse, reclusive as Ravel's
Malaguena, sombre and expressionistic in the ghoulish
Nocturne, 'grand guignol' and then jaunty à la Sousa in the
March and clammily discordant in the absurdly loony finale.
Escales, Bacchanale and the Symphony are well very worth
hearing. At the price this is the place to start your discovery of Ibert.
If the playing does not have the total impact and discipline of the Dutoit,
Martinon, Bernstein versions the recording and performances are much better
than good and no one will feel cheated by such artistry, generosity and economy.