About this Recording
9.70201 - DESBRIÈRE, J.: 5 Pièces étranges / 8 Préludes intérieurs / Piano Concerto (P. Gallois, Löfstrand, Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä)
English  French 

Jacques Desbrière (b. 1925)
Cinq pièces étranges • Huit préludes intérieurs • Piano Concerto


Jacques Desbrière was born in 1925 into a family of art lovers. As a young boy he liked nothing better than to sit at the piano inventing variations on the pieces he had been taught, and he derived particular pleasure from improvisation, both indications of the composer to come. Although he was a pupil of Henri Challan at the Paris Conservatoire in 1943, he responded less well to this instruction than to that of the organist and composer André Tournier, a renowned teacher and accomplished musician. At the age of eighteen he partially abandoned composition in order to serve under General De Lattre de Tassigny (one of De Gaulle’s generals). After the war he returned with an injury to his hand which prevented him becoming the pianist he must have dreamt he would be. He strayed temporarily into the world of commerce, which his successful businessman father thought would prove more secure than an artistic career, before returning to composition.

It was meeting the flautist and conductor Patrick Gallois in 1987 that inspired Desbrière to write several works for flute and piano which were recorded with the pianist Elizabeth Sombart and published by Carrère. The Cinq pièces étranges (Five Strange Pieces) for flute and piano on the present recording have been recorded and played by numerous flautists throughout the world, including Claudio Marinone, Nikolay Stoykov, and Alexis Kossenko. Préludes intérieurs (Internal Preludes), a suite of eight works for solo piano here interpreted by Cecilia Löfstrand, belong to the same period. In 1993 he composed a ballet score for Lahsen Zinoun, a Moroccan choreographer and film-maker, which was performed at the Casablanca Festival of Dance by the Russian Bolshoy Ballet. In 1997 he produced a series of piano works, published by Quantum under the title Cahier de musique. This was recorded by the pianist Sylvie Carbonel.

At the request of his friend Patrick Gallois, Artistic Director of the Jyväskylä Sinfonia of Finland, Desbrière wrote his first symphony, recorded for Naxos, with orchestral excerpts from Pelléas et Mélisande by Sibelius [Naxos 8.557985]. For the same orchestra he wrote the Piano Concerto on the present disc, given its première in 2011 by Cecilia Löfstrand. He is currently working on Divertissement à la française, for flute, piano and orchestra, dedicated to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Sofia on its 85th anniversary. The première, a performance by Maria Prinz and Patrick Gallois, is scheduled to take place at a Day of French Music in Bulgaria in March 2014.

On first hearing, the music of Jacques Desbrière seems entirely in the French tradition: at once tonal and modal, arching from the Couperins to Francis Poulenc by way, naturally, of Fauré, Satie, and above all Ravel, to whom his Piano Concerto refers. The deliberate and distinctive quotations from Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto reveal how profoundly original the concerto by Desbrière is in its harmonic treatment and sense of organization, and in the composition at once free and structured which gives it direction.

Maurice Delage
Translated by Elizabeth Long

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