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.
See also Bacri
Trumpet Concerto No. 2
A NOTE FROM NICOLAS BACRI at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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