From Wistful Pavanes To Brash Ibert

A varied, charming collection of late-Romantics composers Ravel, Fauré, Poulenc, Ibert that will put a smile on your face

Composer: Ravel, Fauré, Poulenc, Ibert
Repertoire:  Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane (Ravel); Pavane (Fauré); Piano Concerto (Poulenc); Divertissement (Ibert)

Artists: Pascal Rogé (pf), London Chamber Orchestra/Christopher Warren-Green
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Signum SIGCD211

The Music: French music seems more susceptible than most to broad brush generalisations about style and tone, but whilst all four composers featured here are late-Romantics, the music is more varied than you’d expect – from the wistful Pavanes to the outrageous brashness of Ibert and the principal work, Poulenc’s Piano Concerto.

The Performance: Live concert recordings aren’t always successful, but with this programme of combined charm and exuberance, the London Chamber Orchestra deliver a crowd pleaser. Pascal Rogé has become something of a Poulenc expert, and his sympathetic yet witty playing makes sense of Poulenc’s profusion of ideas in the centrepiece Piano Concerto, getting the right balance between fun and musical sophistication. The works by ravel and Fauré – both takes on the Pavane – benefit from the warm and expressive orchestral playing – before everyone gets into the spirit of Ibert’s crazy chaotic world.

The Verdict: Enthusiastic and fun, yet with touching, tender moments and a clever awareness of the music’s irony, the London Chamber Orchestra delivers a witty, exuberant collection.

Want More? On the strength of this CD, I’d be tempted to try others in the lCO live series (Signum Classics).