Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)
Symphony in B flat Op.20 (1890)
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Escales (1922)
Divertissement (1930)
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Eduardo Mata
Recorded Dallas, January 1993
DORIAN DOR-90181 [61:50]
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Chausson was one of these French composers known as "la bande a Franck" for they were all his pupils and all were differently influenced by him. Franck's influence was nevertheless a lasting one on late l9th Century French music. (D'Indy, Fauré, Dukas, Magnard and even Roussel were influenced at various degrees by the "Pater Seraphicus".) Chausson's only symphony, completed in 1890, is clearly modelled on Franck's own symphony. It is in three movements and adopts the cyclic pattern favoured by the older composer. It is a tightly knit, closely argued piece of music of some not inconsiderable substance. Nevertheless Chausson has a less strict approach than Franck, and his music is less densely scored, more fanciful and at times more rhapsodic. Moreover Chausson had a remarkable orchestral mastery, evident throughout this symphony. This still youthful, warmly romantic symphony brims with invention, vitality and energy, and is one of the finest late 19th Century French symphonies.

Jacques Ibert was a gifted craftsman with a large and varied output in almost every genre in which he rarely (if at all!) attempted at plumbing any great depth. His finely crafted music aimed - most of the time - at entertainment. He wrote a number of short piano pieces, ballets, orchestral and chamber works characterised by a luminous, neo-classical style tinged with some impressionism. Escales of 1922 may be one of his best-known works, much to his dismay. It is a colourful travelogue around the Mediterranean Sea, a set of vivid postcards evoking the sounds and sights of Italy, North Africa and Spain.

The Divertissement of 1930 is a reworking for small orchestra and piano of some incidental music written for Labiche's comedy Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie. The music is full of humour, alluding to salon music and even parodying Mendelssohn's Wedding March.

Mata's performances of these highly contrasted pieces are all very fine and he gets a fine response from his orchestra. The real problem, though, in assessing such a hugely disparate coupling lies in the fact the Chausson and Ibert have really nothing in common and stand poles apart from each other. Anyway if this coupling appeals to you, you need not worry for each piece is given a highly idiomatic reading and a warm recorded sound.

Hubert Culot


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