Neeme Järvi conducts Ibert

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Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Chandos CHSA 5168

This is I, Burt reviewing Ibert [sorry about that!] Jacques Ibert, known to English admirers as ‘Jackie Bear’, was a French composer [1892-1962] who studied at the Paris Conservatoire and in 1919 won its top prize, the coveted Prix de Rome, subsequently shocking those who awarded it with the non-academic levity of the pieces he wrote. Before this as a naval officer during the Great War he had won both the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d’Honneur. His best-known work and the longest here is the exuberant Divertissement from 1930 with its snatches of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, café songs and Viennese waltzes leading to a breathless galop complete with police whistles. The other seven works include Escales [Ports of Call], a 1922 musical journey round the Mediterranean, Scènes Parisienne [1930], Homage á Mozartand Bacchanale [1956]. For quirky melody and orchestration – which I guess the orchestra under their 79-year-young Estonian conductor had a great time recording – this is an album hard to resist. At 82’15” it is also the longest CD that has come my way to date. All told, then, another “winner” from the Essex-based label.

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