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(b 1925 )

Jacques Desbrière belongs to the generation of French composers of the second half of the twentieth century, a contemporary of Dutilleux, Sauguet, Jolivet, Françaix, Ibert and others. He has composed numerous instrumental works for piano and chamber ensemble. He studied music formally at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1940s under Claude Delvincourt but insists his real instruction in composition came from the organist and composer André Tournier with whom he stayed in close contact until the latter’s death. His work is less a reflection of a world we share than it is the summation of the artist’s own personality. The response of a listener or spectator to this point of reference is dependent on his or her ‘taste’: beauty is subjective, it is found in what pleases our individual tastes or inclinations.

During recent times this subjective view of art became increasingly pronounced. Avant-gardists extolled the idea of artists creating ex nihilo, and of a tabula rasa with regard to tradition; for them ‘originality’ should ultimately supplant all other aesthetic values. Today such devotion to newness for its own sake is entirely outmoded. It is in this context that the music of composers such as Franck, Ravel, Satie or Desbrière—music that can be said to be ‘modern’ but not ‘avant-garde’—has today unrivalled relevance. The musical tradition that did not renounce tonality gives us what would be improbable, even condemned, in the atonal universe: authentically modern beauty.

With this music it is not fitting to speak of ‘discovery’ or ‘invention’, but rather of ‘expression’, as it encapsulates the very personality of its composers. The work of composer Jacques Desbrière on this recording demonstrates this ideal to perfection.

Luc Ferry
Translated by Elizabeth Long

Role: Classical Composer 
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