ONLINE - ISSUE 5
Ibert: Orchestral Works Orchestre de Concerts Lamoureux/Yutaka Sado
Bacchanale. Divertissement. Ouverture de fête. Symphonie marine. Escales.
Jacques Iberts music is very much an acquired taste, which Im not at all sure Ive acquired. I know his lighter works, with their bright surfaces, are intended to be "entertaining," but their shallowness ultimately palls. The music of his compatriot Poulenc is superficially similar, but Poulencs mantle of boulevardier sophistication cloaks substantial musical ideas which resonate in the memory, while all toofrequently theres no real substance beneath Iberts brittle wit.
Yutaka Sados handling of the familiar Divertissement unwittingly proves this, though his intention was, Im sure, precisely the opposite. After the festive, playful Introduction, he plays the next three movements, quieter and more sparsely scored, for "atmosphere." The playing is evocative and pliant, particularly the woodwind solos, but the conductor steadfastly refuses to push the musics acerbic edge, or even to press for crisp definition within the reverberant ambience. Even the usually perky Parade movement sounds laid back, almost noncommittal. On Decca/London, Charles Dutoit, a far more generic interpreter, plays up the scores bright energy and cheesy vitality, and its a knockout; Sados restraint ends up leaving no impression at all.
Escales goes rather better: it thrives on rich orchestral colors and plastic phrasing, and Sados treatment sounds less self-consciously inward. And the sixteen-minute >Ouverture de fête, previously available only in Martinons muddy EMI recording, unexpectedly emerges as an effective, broadly dramatic concert piece, the occasional hint of padding notwithstanding.
On the other hand, the Bacchanale of 1956 pounds along for all the world like a Gallic Sabre dance by way of Shostakovich, until the arrival of a lyrical passage tinted in insouciant Gershwinesque harmonies. And, despite its sinuous sax lines, the Symphonie marine, drawn from the score for a 1931 film, suffers from the pictorial aimlessness typical of film music, save in an extended passage of bouncy rhythms which develops into a cumulative irritation.
There you have it: the music and the performances are very much a matter of taste. Its your moneygranted, not much of it at Naxos pricesand your choice.
Stephen Francis Vasta