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Norbert MORET (1921 – 1998)
Concerto pour trompette (1996/7)a
Suite à l’image du temps (1979)b
Concerto pour cor (1995)c
Jeffrey Segal (trumpet)a; Bruno Schneider (horn)c; Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne; Okko Kamua, Jesus Lopez-Cobosbc
Recorded: Radio Suisse Romande, March 2001 (Trumpet Concerto), October 1998 and February 1999 (Suite), and October 1998 (Horn Concerto)
CASCAVELLE RSR 6169 [65:21]

 

Norbert Moret was born in Fribourg where he completed his musical studies. From 1948 to 1950, he stayed in Paris and studied with Arthur Honegger, René Leibowitz and Olivier Messiaen. The latter’s teaching had, so we are told, an important influence on Moret’s musical development although you hardly notice it when listening to the music. In fact, while listening to his fine music, I more than once thought of Honegger and Bartok rather than of Messiaen. Moret did not come into prominence until he was fifty when his Germes en éveil was successfully performed during the Fête de l’Association des Musiciens Suisses. From then on, he composed consistently till his death in 1998. His fairly substantial output includes a number of concertos : a Cello Concerto (1984/5) written for Rostropovich who recorded it (Erato 2292-45530-2, now reissued on MGB CD 6103,which I have not heard so far), a Violin Concerto En rêve (1988) for Anne-Sophie Mutter who recorded it (DG 431 626-2), a Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Chamber Orchestra (1981) that is available on Grammont CTS-M 23-2 (which I have not heard either), a Triple Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and Strings (1984) as well as two organ concertos from 1995/6 and 1998 respectively, all of which are unavailable in commercial recordings so far. His output also includes several choral works, such as his oratorio for soloists, choruses and orchestra Mendiant au ciel bleu (1980/1) that is available on MGB CD 6199 of which I have just found a copy in a second-hand shop in Brussels.

The three pieces recorded here include two of his latest scores, the Trumpet Concerto of 1996/7 and the Horn Concerto of 1995 as well as a slightly earlier major work Suite à l’image du temps for double string orchestra completed in 1979. This major and substantial work originated from a commission by Edmond de Stoutz for his Zürcher Kammerorchester. Because of a tight deadline, Moret initially planned to write a string version of a recent piece Temps (1977/8, for baritone, strings and two trumpets on words by the composer). However, he soon realised that the absence of the voice and of the trumpets caused some problems as far as textures were concerned. He solved the problem "by filling-in the gap" with a second, smaller string orchestra. This resulted in the present Suite à l’image du temps in five movements (the vocal work has six movements) : Pourquoi, Ombre dansante du songe, Abîme, Extase and Aux quatre vents, which may be considered as impressions vividly evoking (one suspects) the various moods of the poems set in the vocal cycle. (I definitely would like to hear Temps.) The piece, however, may be fully enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the poems; and comes off superbly well as a magnificent work for strings, full of imaginative string writing, displaying a remarkable mastery as well as a considerable expressive strength. This is a marvellous piece of music, worth the comparison with, say, Martinů’s Double Concerto and Bartok’s Divertimento, to name but two that come to mind. One cannot but wonder why a work such as this is so rarely heard.

The Horn Concerto and the Trumpet Concerto, both late works, were written in quick succession. Although they may not be quite in the same league as the masterly Suite, they are nevertheless very fine works idiomatically written and exploiting the expressive range of the solo instruments to the full without ever resorting to "tricks and gimmicks". The solo parts, though, are quite demanding, and call for some considerable stamina on the soloist’s part, but never gratuitously so, I must say, and for some consummate musicality. The composer also draws some remarkable expressive strength from his comparatively modest orchestral forces. In both concertos, there are many fine things and some arresting textures and harmonies; and both display a most refreshing joie de vivre (without sounding "lightish") that is one of their most appealing qualities. I often thought of Jolivet (e.g. the Trumpet Concertino) or of early Ohana (e.g. his own early Trumpet Concertino), and none the worse for that of course. (Incidentally, Moret also composed a Concerto for Strings, Trumpet and Piano in 1970.) Needless to say, these attractive works get very fine readings and very fine recordings. (Incidentally, the Horn Concerto was written for the present soloist, Bruno Schneider.)

In short, this fine release is an excellent introduction to Moret’s superbly crafted, imaginative and personal music, which was new to me. (The only work of his I knew is his Violin Concerto En rêve in Mutter’s recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ozawa, which is now – I think – available as part of a boxed set with Mutter’s recordings of 20th Century concertos.) I know now that I would like to hear more of it soon. This is a very rewarding release well worth looking for.

Hubert Culot



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