The music of Jacques Ibert this weekend – a performance of the Trio for Harp, violin and cello, featuring the legendary Lily Laskine, harp as well as Roland Charmy on violin – the session was recorded at the Paris studios of the ORTF around 1955.
Ibert, by his own admission, was an eclectic composer – not fitting into any one genre or school of composition, but rather embracing many during his lifetime. A prolific composer, who was not only well known for his Orchestra, vocal and Chamber work, but also his film scores. He’s probably best known for his two orchestral pieces Divertissment and Escales (Ports of Call) – Escales became a staple in the concert programming for many orchestras throughout the 1930s all the way to the 1980s.
Ibert’s career extended from 1921 to 1961 (Ibert died in 1962). In addition to his work as composer, he was also active as a conductor and music Administrator. His career suffered a gap during World War 2, when his music was banned by the Nazi-puppet government in Paris, forcing him into exile in Switzerland until after the war, when he was reinstated by General De Gaulle in 1945. After the war his work resumed and he was also in charge of running the Opera-Comique and Paris Opera in the 1950s.
Critical assessments of his work run the gamut from Impressionistic to light-hearted and frivolous. It also explains his wide appeal with audiences. Although still popular in concert halls, his music has been getting less exposure in recent decades than before. Still, a worthy composer of investigating and enjoying. There is much to recommend, and this Trio is certainly one of them.
Caveat: The sound is passable, but not stellar. The original transcription discs were damaged, and every effort was taken to lessen the jarring noise – for the most part it works, but a few annoying spots pop up every now and then. The only thing I can say in its defense is; if they found you laying face down on an cement floor, you’d sound a little beat-up too.