Ibert: Piano music

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Ibert
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano music
PERFORMER: Hae-won Chang (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554720
Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) was a very ‘professional’ composer, who wrote music of all kinds, from operas to short piano pieces. He was not one of ‘Les Six’, but you feel he might have been, since his music is witty and never pretentious. None of his piano music is on an extended scale, and the longest piece in ‘Les rencontres’ (Encounters), which is a more ambitious work than anything else here and which Ibert made into a ballet, lasts only four minutes. The Petite suite of 1943 consists of 15 character pieces, or ‘images’, while Histoires is a collection he made in 1922 with titles suggesting the nursery. ‘The Little White Donkey’ is the best-known, and ‘The Abandoned Palace’ perhaps owes something to Debussy’s ‘Submerged Cathedral’.

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Debussy again is suggested by the title of an earlier piece, ‘The Wind in the Ruins’, though Ibert steers well clear of pastiche. Among the other pieces at the beginning of the disc, I particularly liked a brief Toccata on the name of Albert Roussel, a composer with whom Ibert surely had a lot in common.

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The Korean pianist Hae-won Chang rather hits the keys and the recording is clean but a bit thin. Still, Radio 3 presenters may like to have it to hand when they have a few minutes to fill. Adrian Jack