Neeme Järvi conducts the Orchestre de la Suisse Romade in Ibert

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Jaques Ibert
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Ibert
WORKS: Escales; Sarabande pour Dulcinée; Ouverture de fête; Féerique; Divertissement; Hommage à Mozart; Paris; Bacchanale
PERFORMER: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: Chandos CHSA 5168 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Rather like Poulenc, there seem to be two Iberts. One writes music of exquisite beauty, inspired by some of the most colourful music from the turn of the 20th century, notably Debussy. The other sends up all and sundry with rambunctious parody. It may be hard to reconcile Escales and the Divertissement as coming from the same pen, yet Ibert’s heritage is clearly the lighter strand of French music associated with ballet and operetta.

As with previous French offerings from Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, this disc reveals much of interest to explore beyond the familiar items. Féerique sparkles, and the symphonic suite Paris finds Ibert at his most inventive, mixing jazzy playfulness with suave exoticisms. Little gems such as the breathless Bacchanale and the effervescent Hommage à Mozart may not be especially profound, but they are charming all the same. Quite why the muskily perfumed Sarabande pour Dulcinée is not heard more often is a mystery.

The highlight, though, is Escales, which finds Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande on top form and benefiting from recorded sound that is wonderful on CD and outstanding on SACD. Unfortunately Järvi cannot quite let rip in the Divertissement, so it sounds far too polite, typified by the cadenza that opens the final movement sounding methodical rather than apparently tearing the piano apart. This is a pity, but the performance of Escales makes this packed disc worth investigating.

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Christopher Dingle