Jacques Ibert

Film Music Classics: Macbeth/Golgotha/Don Quichotte [Marco Polo]

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Swiss conductor Adriano is one of Naxos' real assets, a genuine advocate of unjustly neglected scores; he is both fond of seeking them out and skilled at editing them himself for recording. Jacques Ibert: Macbeth -- Golgotha -- Don Quinchotte is a relatively early undertaking for Adriano, recorded by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava in 1989 and 1990 for release in Marco Polo's Film Music Classics series. The sound is a little distant, as in many early Naxos products, but this will disturb only the hardest core audiophiles.

Orson Welles' choice of Jacques Ibert as his composer for a film of Shakespeare's Macbeth seems as left field today as it must have in 1948. Yet the resulting score shows that Welles was right -- he must've heard enough of Ibert's music to know that this "light" composer could dish out the bizarre as well as anyone of that era. Both Macbeth and Ibert's earlier score Golgotha (1935), featured on the Naxos Film Music Classics release of Jacques Ibert: Macbeth -- Golgotha -- Don Quinchotte, demonstrate that he was a very skilled and responsive composer for film who could have done well in Hollywood, but for reasons known only to him, did all of his film work in Europe. The score for Golgotha, with its ondes martenot and quotations from the Dies Irae, could pass muster as a Hollywood score written a decade or more later.

The shortest of the three works on this disc is the only one to gain some traction in the repertoire, Ibert's songs from G.W. Pabst's 1933 film Don Quinchotte starring legendary Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin. Most commonly performed in versions for voice and piano, this is the fully orchestrated configuration as heard in the film. Added to the group is Chanson de Sancho, used in the film but not included in the published version of the score. Bass Henry Kiichli does a fine job interpreting Ibert's music without aping Chaliapin, yet stops short of avoiding his long shadow over these pieces to the degree that it affects the result. Adriano gets a soft, beautiful sound out of Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava, the perfect cushion for Kiichli's achievement in these pieces.

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