Apart from the Entr’acte
(tr. 13) I have to admit that
I was unfamiliar with Ibert’s chamber music, though I knew some of his
orchestral works, mostly light-hearted and entertaining, and also some of
his film scores. He is at his most serious in his music for cinema, notably
in masterpieces like Duvivier’s Golgotha
, Orson Welles’
and probably his most well-known score, Pabst’sDon
, where the eponymous anti-hero was sung and acted by Feodor
Chaliapin, the legendary Russian bass. The four songs that Ibert wrote have
been recorded a number of times - not least by Chaliapin himself - and are
heard not infrequently at recitals.
The largest of his chamber works is the String Quartet
also the music on this disc that made the deepest impression. The opening
movement is harmonically rather bold but constantly accessible, rhythmically
very alive and entertaining - though there are darker streaks as well. These
come more to the fore in the second movement which, at 9½ minutes is
the longest and possibly the most personal. Played Allegro assai
expresses deep melancholy, caused I believe by the outbreak of the war. The
quartet was composed between 1937 and 1941 and premiered in 1944 in Paris
after the liberation. The Presto
is a short scherzo played pizzicato
and here he approaches his lighter style. It is a delightful piece that
would be a suitable encore after a heavy-weight quartet evening. The
concluding Allegro marcato
is energetic and positive.
for violin and piano in two short movements has
a lively and entertaining first movement and a second where the violin sings
in long melodious phrases over a rather boisterous piano accompaniment.
Originally it was written for flute and piano but with an indication in the
published score that the flute part can just as well be played on violin.
stands for is a well hidden secret. The word
seems to be constructed by Ibert. It is a short meditation, written in 1950,
commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation and dedicated to the memory of
Natalie Koussevitsky, the second wife of conductor Serge Koussevitsky.
for violin, cello and harp was written in 1944 and
the harpist Ibert had in mind was his daughter Jacqueline, who was a pupil
of the famous Lily Laskine. The opening movement is rather thoughtful; in
the Andante sostenuto
the cello sings beautifully to begin with and
is then joined by the violin in an extended dialogue. The finale is
sprightly and joyous and here the harp is also more exposed than in the
previous movements. All in all a delightful composition!
from 1931 was originally a vocalise for voice and
piano, but Ibert’s fellow-student at the Conservatoire, Paul-Louis
Neuberth, then arranged it for viola and piano the following year. Very
, also a word that doesn’t exist in any known
language, is a telling title for the little piece for solo violin written
the same year as Ghirlarzana.
An entertaining miniature.
, as mentioned before, was the one piece I
knew. It belongs to incidental music Ibert wrote in 1935 for a production of
Calderón’s El médico de su honra
. This nice
little bon-bon exists in several arrangements.
is fairly well-known, the quintet for
string quartet and double-bass is probably one of least known works - and
also the earliest on this disc. It here gets its first recording It is
melodious and beautiful but it is not known how much of the music that
really is Ibert’s. It is based on a piece written by August Gay, a
contemporary of Ibert. I have not been able to find any information about
All the works are expertly played by the Bridge Quartet and their
associates. The recorded sound is first class and the annotations by Robert
Matthew-Walker are informative and well written. The string quartet and the
delectable trio are major works that should win new admirers for
Ibert’s music. The other pieces are well written and highly attractive
but rather light-weight.