Something slightly different tonight. Since these posts go under the heading of Weekend Gramophone, it occurred to me that none of the posts I’ve done here so far have had anything to do with the namesake; gramophone records – those chunks of shellac that spin at between 78 and 80 rpms and usually contain rare recordings or unusual recordings of out-of-the-way repertoire – all from the 78 library I’ve started to dig back into.
This weekend it’s a rarity – the world premier recording, done shortly after the premier, of Jacques Ibert’s Donogoo. The only other commercial recording I see of this piece, was a suite composed some two years later and has been given a recent recording. This one though, features a 13 piece ensemble led by Ibert and featuring Jean Doyen playing the piano obligato. The two record set (1 10″ disc and 1 12″ disc) was recorded on October 26, 1930 – and the set itself is reportedly rare because the two records are of different sizes and the 10″ disc is usually the one that winds up broken.
But also, I suspect the reason this particular recording hasn’t been reissued is that it’s not one of Ibert’s more recognizable works – Escales it isn’t. But it is definitely Jacques Ibert; a composer who defied pigeon-holes and turned in a vast array of work that spokes volumes to the eclectic nature of the man himself.
Donogoo is fun to listen to – because it goes all over the place, and does it with matter-of-fact nonchalance. It is highly experimental; mixing percussion instruments with what appears to be Chinese recitation, going straight into a lively French march – completely insane, but completely believable and engaging. But that’s one of the qualities that has made the music of Jacques Ibert such a pleasure to discover – it adheres to no custom or set of rules, yet it all makes perfect sense.
If you aren’t familiar with Donogoo, or have heard about it but haven’t heard the complete 78 set, take a few minutes out and get used to this one. After several years of not transferring 78s to digital, I may have gotten out of practice – bear with me, I’ll get it together.