Jacques Ibert – Piano Music
About the author:
Jacques François Antoine Ibert (August 15, 1890 – February 5, 1962) was a French composer of classical music. He studied under Paul Vidal at the Paris Conservatoire and won the Prix de Rome in 1919 for his cantata Le poète et la fée. From 1937 he was director of the French Academy in Rome, and from 1955 to 1957 directed Paris’ Opéra-Comique. He died in Paris.
Ibert’s music is considered to be typically quite “light” in character, often witty, colourfully orchestrated with attractive melodies. Although he was not a member of Les Six, his music shares some characteristics with theirs. His best known work is probably the orchestral Divertissement (1930), based on his incidental music for Eugène Labiche’s play, Un Chapeau de paille d’Italie (The Italian Straw Hat). In the course of the work he comically quotes many pieces, including Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Other prominent pieces include Escales (1924) for orchestra, the symphonic poem La Ballade de la geôle de Reading (based on the poem by Oscar Wilde), his concerto for flute and Concertino da Camera for saxophone and Histoires for solo piano. He composed a number of operas, such as L’Aiglon (The Eaglet), and the operetta Les Petites Cardinal, some together with Arthur Honegger. His ballet Le Chevalier Errant (épopée choréographique, 1951) was premiered by Georges Tzipine with the ORTF. Among his film scores is the one for Orson Welles’ version of Macbeth (1948). In 1956 he wrote the work Bacchanale to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the BBC Third Programme. Its premiere was given by Sir Eugene Goossens.
About this work:
Recorded in September 1991 and originally issued in 1992 on Naxos’ costlier sister label Marco Polo (as 8.223409), here is a second chance to sample this rarely heard repertoire. And perhaps to sample is indeed the best way to enjoy this survey of Ibert’s pianistic output – to take a couple of free-standing pieces, then perhaps one of the larger collections as the mood takes you. At over 70 minutes, a straight run-through can become laborious, even given such dedicated playing as this. Chang is alive to the various discernible influences, principally Debussy and Poulenc, and also demonstrates an admirable and entirely apt sense of restraint – only occasionally (for example, the first movement of the ‘Petite Suite’) does she become over-literal.
The disc begins with six miniatures (of which one, ‘Francaise’, was originally written for guitar). ‘Le vent dans les ruines’ (‘The wind over the ruins’) of 1915 is particularly effective, a delicate sister to Debussy’s Prelude, ‘Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest’. The opening ‘Scherzetto’ is wittily quirky, whilst the brief (58 seconds!) ‘Toccata sur le nom d’Albert Roussel’ provides a spiky contrast. Of the three sets, ‘Les rencontres’ (‘Encounters’) is the most interesting. This was written in 1921-4 and is subtitled, ‘Little Suite in the form of a Ballet’ (it was used as such by Nijinska in the following year). Ibert’s pianistic imagination seems particularly fertile here, ‘Les mignardes’ (‘The precious girls’) especially successful in its Debussian evocations and dynamic swells.
The ‘Petite Suite’ in ‘Fifteen Picures’ is more variable – the opening ‘Prelude’ is rather drab, ‘Parade’ is somewhat uninspired, and yet ‘La machine a coudre’ (‘The sewing machine’) is charming and the concluding ‘Danse du cocher’ (‘Cabman’s Dance’) is playfully Stravinskian – Chang at last lets her hair down here. ‘Histoires’ (‘Stories’) is the laongest collection, running to nearly 22 minutes. ‘Le petit ane blanc’ (‘The little white donkey’) is likely to be the most familiar movement, and is certainly the most frequently excerpted. Of interest also is the Hispanically-titled ‘Bajo la mesa’ (‘Under the table’), strikingly close to de Falla.
01. Scherztto (2:50)
02. Pièce Romantique (5:54)
03. Toccata sur le nom d’Albert Roussel (1:00)
04. L’espiègle au village de Lilliput (1:00)
05. Française: ‘Guitarre’ pour le piano (2:37)
06. Le vent dans les ruines (2:58)
07. Petite suite -I- Prélude (1:46)
08. Petite suite -II- Ronde (0:42)
09. Petite suite -III- Le gai vigneron (0:49)
10. Petite suite -IV- Berceuse aux étoiles (1:44)
11. Petite suite -V- Le cavalier Sans-souci (0:58)
12. Petite suite -VI- Parade (1:19)
13. Petite suite -VII- La promenade en traîneau (0:58)
14. Petite suite -VIII- Romance (1:17)
15. Petite suite -IX- Quadrille (0:36)
16. Petite suite -X- Sérénade sur l’eau (1:06)
17. Petite suite -XI- La machine à coudre (0:34)
18. Petite suite -XII- L’Adieu (2:09)
19. Petite suite -XIII- Les crocus (0:58)
20. Petite suite -XIV- Premier bal
21. Petite suite -XV- Danse du cocher
22. Histoires -I- La meneuse de tortues d’or (3:41)
23. Histoires -II- Le petit âne blanc (2:03)
24. Histoires -III- le vieux mendiant (3:03)
25. Histoires -IV- A giddy girl (1:24)
26. Histoires -V- Dans la maison triste (1:51)
27. Histoires -VI- Le palais abandonné (2:07)
28. Histoires -VII- Bajo la mesa (2:03)
29. Histoires -VIII- La cage de cristal (1:26)
30. Histoires -IX- La marchande d’eau fraîche (2:09)
31. Histoires -X- Le cortège de balkis (2:00)
32. Les rencontres -I- Les bouquetières (3:08)
33. Les rencontres -II- Les créoles (4:04)
34. Les rencontres -III- Les mignardes (3:01)
35. Les rencontres -IV- Les bergères (3:39)
36. Les rencontres -V- Les bavardes (2:18)
Hae-Won Chang: piano
Chang Hae Won was born in Korea in the city of Seoul and started to play the piano at the age of six, completing her professional studies at Ewha University in Seoul in 1963. From 1964 until 1968 she studied at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule with Professor Leopolder on a German government scholarship and was awarded her diploma as a concert pianist. On her return to Korea she was appointed professor of piano at her old university.
In Korea Chang Hae Won won various prizes, including first prize in the Korean National Piano Competition. Her career as a concert pianist began three years earlier, in 1957, when she played Beethoven’s C minor Piano Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then she has enjoyed a busy career as a teacher and as a performer in Korea, in other Asian countries, in America and in Europe, with annual concert tours and engagements at home and abroad. She has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras and in recitals with Ruggiero Ricci, Christian Ferras, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Aaron Rosand, André Navarra and others. She has performed as a soloist at numerous music festivals, including the Paris Château de Breteuil Festival, the National Music Festival in Korea and the festival for the opening of the Sejong Cultural Centre and of the Goethe-Institut in Seoul. She has served on the Vianna da Motta Competition jury in Lisbon. In 1985 she was acclaimed by the Music Critics’ Circle of Korea as Musician of the Year, and won high praise in the German press for her technical accomplishment and musicianship. She has recorded for Telefunken, Camerata Tokyo, Hong Kong Records and Marco Polo.
stereo, mp3, 320 kbps, DDD, 70:47 minutes. Covers & info included.