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Jacques Ibert: Persée et Andromède
Jacques Ibert, Jan Latham-Koenig, Mélanie Moussay
Jacques Ibert: Persée et Andromède
Genres: Soundtracks, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1


      

CD Details

 

CD Reviews

Ibert Discoveries That Should Please
M. C. Passarella | Lawrenceville, GA | 10/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I guess you could say Jacques Ibert was robbed, by musical history at least. In America, about the only piece you'll hear by him in concert halls is the Flute Concerto, one of the best written for that instrument. Ibert's once-popular musical travelogue "Escales" is too much of a chestnut to be programmed often anymore, I suppose. There are a handful of other orchestral works by which Ibert is known, mostly on CD, and that's about it. But after all, he was a highly gifted musician who also penned maybe the best musical joke ever, the wry, sophisticated Divertisement, which never gets old.

Avie Records seems to want to redress this wrong--and do so with a single CD that brings to light three excellent works by the French master. The opera "Persee et Andromede" (1929) is one of those fables that the French seem to favor (think of Pelleas et Melisande or La Belle et le Bete). This fable is by the Symbolist writer Jules Laforgue and is based on Greek mythology, of course, but it has the whimsy and irony of a Carlo Goldoni tale. In fact, it makes me think a bit of Prokofiev's "Love for Three Oranges" based on Goldoni, though Ibert's idiom is much less consciously modernist. In fact, Ibert's score is reminiscent of Ravel, and like Ravel's "L'enfant et les Sortileges," Ibert's opera can be called the perfect CD opera. I imagine "Persee" would be pretty hard to bring off on the stage, but on CD, the ravishingly colored orchestration and gracious vocal music that Ibert writes create a fine entertainment for the ears.

This performance from Strasbourg seems to provide everything the score requires. The orchestra plays with great verve and color, and the singers all get inside their roles quite well: The menacing Cathos of Phillipe Rouillion, the haughty Persee of Yann Beuron, the ingenue Andromede of Annick Massis. If Melanie Moussay as Thetis had a bigger part, she might have shipwrecked the project with her nasal and not-well-tuned mezzo, but luckily, her role is tres petite.

The other big work on the CD is almost as remarkable. "La Ballade de la Geole de Reading" is a long tone poem based on Oscar Wilde's tragic tale of the man who had "killed the thing he loved / And so he had to die." Written in 1920, Ibert's work sounds sort of like a cross between Dukas and Roussel, with a bit of Charles Koechlin thrown in, but for me it is way ahead of most Koechlin that I've heard (except for the equally remarkable "Jungle Books" music). Again, the Strasbougers play with real spirit for their leader Jan Latham-Koenig.

The brief, languid Sarabande pour Duclinee brings us to just over the 70-minute mark on this well-filed disc.

Avie's recording matches the performances in quality: it's bright and very nicely detailed but with a proper sense of space. I think they have done Jacques Ibert proud."