studying with prize-laden attainment,
at the Paris Conservatoire was, in 1997,
appointed organist at the St-Etienne-du-Mont
church in Paris. He has accompanied
religious services since the age of
seven. At the age of 38 he has many
works in his portfolio: Esquisses
for organ (1988), Symphony No. 1 Kyrie
d'une Messe Imaginaire (1992), Chants
du Ténèbres for saxophone
and strings (1992) and a 1995 Organ
His single movement Trumpet Concerto was written
between 2001 and 2002. It is in the form of a tone poem with an
eloquent orator's role for the trumpet solo. This is an instinctive
fantasy - a rhapsodic pilgrimage whose 'feet' one feels are guided
by spontaneity rather than 'route map'. It is modern, haunted,
desperate, the journey of a mind that is tortured and then consoled
(7.55) and offered balm (18.34). It is modern in expression and
uses dissonance with the lightest of touches. Melody is what distinguishes
this work - listen to the solo violin at 8.55. The violin solo
has an important role as interlocutor throughout this piece. The
work is at times restless, full of the feeling of the pilgrim
looking fearfully over his shoulder. The music reminded me somewhat
of Othmar Macha's Violin Concerto (Arco Diva, recently reviewed).
Aubier has plenty to do and much brilliant work is required including
dialogue with solo voices in the orchestra … and not just the
leader's violin. At 14.11 and 22.42 the terse wildness of the
conversation with the brass is surely influenced by the writing
of William Schuman. This is an impressive piece which but for
the sanguine exuberance of the final few minutes would well have
merited the title 'De profundis clamavi'.
Ohana was born in Casablanca. He entered
Paris's Schola Cantorum in 1936. In 1946 he founded the Zodiaque
group which rejected 'isms' and classification in favour of artistic
freedom. Not for him the enchainment of neo-classicism or the
rigours of serial method. True to his Andalusian blood he explored
Spanish music there setting timbre above structure. He took against
both the violin and the clarinet, finding them either too sweet
or too laden with European musical history. The oboe was acceptable
seeming to link with Greek and Berber genes. In the drum rhythms
in the finale of the Concertino we can surely hear North African
drum patterns. Ohana found inspiration in landscape, sea, wind
and rain. The Concertino is a work of aristocratic, even regal,
writing for the trumpet. The soloist shows a nobility that places
the work light years away from music-hall, Tijuana or the Salvation
Army. Jazz puts in only the briefest of poignant appearances at
5.20 in the finale which ends not with bang but a whimper. The
Concertino was suppressed by the composer during his lifetime.
His publishers were told that it could only be published after
Bacri's First Trumpet Concerto was written
in 1999 and as the composer says was written for trumpeters whereas
the Second Concerto was written for Bacri alone. It is, says the
composer, a form of conversation with Bach. Bacri puts Aubier
through his paces with writing taking the trumpeter into spheres
where the metaphorical oxygen is thin. This succinct work, written
in tribute to Bach (but not obviously emulating that composer),
falls into three movements played without break although the dividing
seams are obvious. I can understand why there should be no break.
Today's audiences are too easily given to inter-movement applause
which would defile the spell of this prayerful and virtuosic meditation.
The idiom of the concerto is mildly modernistic; perhaps more
so than the Sinfonietta for Strings recently recorded by
the l'Orchestre des Régions Européenes. The work
ends in stellar regions with an optimism similar to that which
also steals victory in the Escaich piece.
Eric Aubier's virtuosity, both in brash, diving
descent and rocket-like ascent as well as in poetry of expression
and thoughtful reverie really makes this disc. When he hits a
top note he does so with invincible and magnificent stability.
The orchestra tackles these by no means easy works with an accomplishment
that should be the envy of Parisian orchestras let alone the regional
All three works, despite their disparate titles
and associated expectations, have a serious but not pompous role
for the trumpet. There is poignant oratory and earnest rhetoric
pregnant with psychological drama. When Aubier engages afterburners
make sure you are sitting down! The Bacri is the most overtly
virtuosic piece here though all three test the soloist in diverse
ways. Excellent composer notes, background and recording to match.
Trumpeters will want to hear this but the disc's
audience deserves to be much wider than the trumpet community
and its entourage.
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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