Neeme Järvi conducts Jacques Ibert: sumptuous

There’s a reason Chandos released this in the SACD format. Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande perform Ibert’s orchestral works with sympathy and panache — and subtle inflection. And that means every sonic detail is important.

As recorded by Chandos, the orchestra, performing in Victoria Hall, Geneva, has a rich, seamless ensemble blend that can be transparent when it needs to. There’s enough ambience to give the listener a sense of space, yet all the fine details of the music — such as the solo passages — never get lost.

Escales – Ports of Call from 1924 has a languorous opening that almost a study in impressionist soft-focus. At times, Jarvi and the orchestra seem to lose themselves in the beauty of the sound. But they never lose their way. And when the piece kicks into high gear. Jarvi brings out the drama, making the most of the contrasts in the second and third movements.

Jarvi’s interpretation of Divertissement hits the sweet spot, I think. It’s energetic, jazzy, light-hearted, and sometimes a little silly, But it all works. Ibert’s Bacchanale is another high-energy work and is a real showpiece for the orchestra. The full-bodied sound of the ensemble occasionally gave me chills.

By contrast, the Sarabande from Don Quichotte is a simple, and simply a beautiful orchestral song. Jarvi’s interpretation is delicate and charming. The symphonic tone poem Féerique is similarly lyrical in sections but with a different, more complex character. In this performance, I heard Ibert’s connection to Debussy more clearly than I had before.

The other works on the album are also performed with the same high degree of musicianship — musicianship that reveals itself in minute details. For that reason, I recommend purchasing the SACD version of this recording. If you prefer downloads, seek out the highest resolution audio files you can find. It will make a difference.

Neeme Järvi conducts Ibert
Escales; Sarabande pour Dulcinée; Ouverture de fête; Féerique; Divertissement; Hommage à Mozart; Suite symphonique ‘Paris’; Bacchanale
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Neeme Järvi, conductor
Chandos SACD CHSA 5168 

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