“Jacques Around the Clock” – JACQUES IBERT: Entr’acte; Jeux: Sonatine; Deux mouvements; Deux interludes; Aria; Piece pour flute seule; Histoires; Deux Steles orientées; Pastoral; Aria; Entr’acte – Sue Ann Kahn, flute, with ensemble – Albany TROY 145, 56:58 ****:
Works having to do with clocks and featuring two witty French composers of delightful chamber music – they seemed made for one another. Francaix, who lived until 1997, wrote in all genres and his opera includes over 250 works – mostly of an instrumental nature. His chamber music is charming but often has passages challenging to the performers. The English horn quartet is ravishing and should be more frequently heard. The idea for the suite of the musical clock was derived from a poem by Mallarmé. All of Francaix’s works have a light, optimistic, but not necessarily flippant feeling to them.
As Francaix seemed to be attracted to the woodwinds with reeds, Ibert fancied the flute, and a treasury of his short pieces for that instrument are treasured by flutists today. Flutist Kahn decided to put together a program of the French composer’s music featuring flute in observance of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The opening Entr’acte – one of his best-known melodies – was inspired by Segovia’s guitar mastery. Heard first for flute and guitar, it returns at the conclusion of the recital in a version for flute and harp. Ibert didn’t limit himself to membership in the group known as Les Six, though he was friends with Honegger and Milhaud. He wanted to follow his own independent way – writing playful music with great melodies and sparkling color and design. All of his music wasn’t for chamber ensembles – his masterpiece musical travelogue Escales, for instance, is a superb orchestral work. Up to four flutes are heard in some of the selections. Some of the pieces were created as incidental music for the theater, and Histoires – the longest work on this disc – was originally a series of three piano pieces. Kahn is a first rate flutist and her ten cohorts support her with elan.
– John Sunier