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Nicolas BACRI (b.1961)
Sinfonietta for string orchestra Op. 72 (2001) [14.59]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Ricercar from the Musical Offering [8.53]
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Grosse Fuge from String Quartet Op. 133 [19.24]
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)

Divertimento (1939) [28.16]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)

Impromptu for strings [7.25]
Orchestre des Régions Européennes/Konrad von Abel
rec. live concert, Prinzregententheater Großer Saal, Munich, 18 Oct 2002, Sergiu Celibidache Festival
ECOUTEZ ORCHESTRA DES RÉGIONS EUROPÉENNES MTBZ 221 102 [77.21]

 

For me the main interest of this disc, which preserves a live concert in Munich last year, centres on the Sinfonietta of fellow member of the British Music Society, Nicolas Bacri.

After a dignified and restrained Ricercar comes a much more impassioned Grosse Fuge in which the sheer weight, Olympian aspiration and massive strength of the playing impresses. Bartok's Divertimento is played with plenty of grunting attack, dignified foreboding and streaming exuberance. After all this intensity the Sibelius Impromptu is a surprising yet satisfying presence acting as a mellow and calm-invoking farewell; the ideal Beecham bonbon after stern depths and serious drama.

Nicolas Bacri was born in 1961 in Paris. He studied with Claude Ballif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg and Michel Philippot. Special scholarships and appointments have associated him with Radio France, l'Académie Française in Rome and with Casa Velásquez in Madrid. His worklist runs to more than eighty entries including six symphonies, fifteen concertos, five string quartets, three piano trios and much else. His Sinfonietta for Strings is in three movements of gently acidic harmonic inclination. His music is on this showing less forbidding than Rawsthorne, more akin to mid-period Bartók, mature Bliss and early Tippett. The affecting adagio is touching and superbly well sustained in a way that hints at a dignified stance somewhere between Barber and Schmitt's Janiana symphony. The spell is only transiently disrupted by a cough at 4.30 - one of the perils of a live concert. Two other works occurred to me while listening to this. They are, especially in relation to Bacri's first hoarse and ruthlessly propulsive movement, the string Sinfoniettas of Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann. The first movement is well marked Drammatico. The second is dedicated to Edmund Rubbra and, typically for Rubbra, is marked Meditation. The finale relates to Marin Marais, the successor to Lully at the court of the Sun King but sounds nothing like Lully ... not that it needs to. The sparkling levity of the finale, entering after a more serious introduction, recalled the athletic writing in Lennox Berkeley's Serenade for Strings. Overall the Bacri is a much stronger work than the Berkeley. This Sinfonietta is a substantial piece and the declared diminutive relates to time-scale rather than mood or ambition. The Bacri demands attention if you are already interested in, say, William Schuman's Fifth Symphony, Howells' Concerto for Strings, Bliss's Music for Strings, the various orchestrations of the Shostakovich quartets, the Tippett Concerto and Corelli Fantasia and the Maw Life Studies as well as the Herrmann, Waxman and Schmitt works already mentioned.

The notes are in French and German only but are thorough and full.

A strong recommendation for this disc; not simply as a memento of a fine concert but as a permanent listening privilege for the Bacri.

Rob Barnett

See also Bacri Trumpet Concerto No. 2

A NOTE FROM NICOLAS BACRI at nbacri64@wanadoo.fr

My first trumpet concerto is dedicated to Sir Michael Tippett. It was written more for the trumpeter than for my pleasure. The reference to Tippett was my "blue sky corner". It was in fact written in 1992 not as you have said in the review. It was therefore written while Tippett was still alive. I had obtained the permission via Tippett's office to dedicate the work to him. Unfortunately he died few weeks before the CD was issued and thus never heard it.

I regret that you didn't speak about the jazz in my Second Concerto. It is a unusual feature in my music and I consider this was daring to put jazz in a work "im angedenken J.S. Bach". Also you fail to mention the continuous shifting between tonality and atonality in my works. This is certainly a feature in my Sinfonietta which does in fact make a reference of Lully. The introduction to the (before the sonatina begin) of the third movement is composed by Lully. It was taken, and of course, much "disturbed" harmonically and rhythmically but not melodically, entirely from "L'Opération de la Taille" by Lully. In the Sinfonietta I agree on the influences you mention except the Sinfoniettas by Herrmann and Waxman that I do not know and Schmitt’s Janiana which I do not know either.

I am very flattered when you say that I have chosen the name ‘Sinfonietta’ only for the brevity of the work. But it wouldn't be honest to let you say that without reacting.

Actually I did call that piece ‘Sinfonietta’ because I think the material is lighter than usually in my music. If you come in October 2003 to the Barbican you will hear my Symphony N°6 which, in the recording that is published this month (Sept 2003) by Gramophone, lasts 12 minutes. This is a real symphony, not a Sinfonietta.

My Sinfonietta For Strings is not a real symphony (otherwise I would have numbered it N°7), but an entertaining piece related to the symphonic form.

I am sincerely grateful to you for comparing it so advantageously to the Serenade by Lennox Berkeley, with which, I believe, it shares more in spirit, than with true symphonies.

If people would like to learn more about my site www.nicolasbacri.com

Nicolas Bacri


 



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