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Dom Clement Jacob: Sonates 6 & 14; Nocturnes 2 & 3; Barcarolles 3 & 4

Jacob / Arbus,Bernard
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Calliope   Catalog #: 1315   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



M. JACOB Piano Sonatas Nos. 5 and 14. Nocturnes Nos. 5 and 6. Barcarolles Nos. 3 and 4 Bernard Arbus (pn) CALLIOPE 1315 (53:54)


Born in 1906, Maxime Jacob first came to notice when in 1923 his Overture d’orchestre was performed at the Champs Elysées. In the same year he joined the Ecole d’Arcueil, a group of musicians formed around Satie. He later studied harmony with Charles Koechlin, piano with Yves Nat, and composition with André Gedalge Read more at the Paris Conservatory. 1929 was one of the turning points in his life; it was in this year that he converted to Roman Catholicism and took holy orders, taking the name Dom Clément Jacob. Thereafter he made a study of Gregorian chant and took organ lessons from Cabié and Duruflé. His music has taken inspiration from a variety of sources: Bizet, Gounod, Mendelssohn, Milhaud, Poulenc, in addition to Satie and chant. Though serious at moments, his music almost always brings delight upon first listening.


The groups of works on the current recital all date from between 1941 (the Sonata No. 5) and 1963 (the Barcarolles, inspired by and dedicated to Fauré). If there’s one word that can best describe Jacob’s music, that word might be lyrical. Throughout the 20 or so years which separate these works from each other, Jacob’s music tends to focus on simple harmonic patterns, filled with rich melodies, which are somehow disturbed or broken by either shifts of scales or modes, or dissonance which breaks through and invades the simpler, mostly diatonic harmonies. Simple is the key word. These works are easy to listen to, but that makes them neither simple in design nor simple in their message.


The two sonatas which frame this recital are the largest works featured here. The earliest of them, the Fifth Sonata, has four movements, in the order fast, slow, Scherzo, and Finale (in this case a perpetuum mobile ). Beginning in a light-hearted vein, the emotional core of the work is centered in the slow movement. The two movements which follow bring the work to a virtuosic and rousing conclusion, the Scherzo acting almost as introduction to the fleet-fingered and chilly-sounding concluding movement. The 14th Sonata, written some decade later, is described in the booklet notes as “a pastoral ode to the gentle countryside of the Lauragais.” There is an inherent tranquility in the first of the three movements, though the way in which the material develops and wanders harmonically gives the sense that there is unrest even in this peacefulness—one must remember, the year was 1950, the world a completely changed one, especially for those born, like Jacob, in the early 1900s. The mood of the simple second movement, lyrical and calm, is finally broken by the Finale’s rustic dance-like spirit. The smaller works on the recital, two each of the nocturnes and the barcarolles, fill out the program nicely, the lyrical nature of both genres perfectly suiting Jacob’s compositional style.


Throughout the recital Bernard Arbus serves as a very fine guide. My main issue with his playing of this music is that it could at times be just a bit lighter—the sound in movements like the Finale to the Fifth Sonata is just a bit too heavy, giving the movement a feeling of plodding along, instead of whizzing by, especially as the tempo itself is well judged. But what the pianist does bring is an evident sense of the joie de vivre of this music and that is perhaps its most important aspect. And with music of such high craftsmanship and obvious emotional impact it is a pity that this is not better known. This is now Arbus’s second release of Jacob’s music, the first being recorded some years back. Will there be more? I sincerely hope so—though perhaps the next release will offer more than just 54 minutes of music.


FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

1.
Piano Sonata No. 5 by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 16 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2.
Piano Sonata No. 14 by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1950 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 17 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3.
Nocturne No. 2, for piano by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1950-1960 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 
4.
Nocturne No. 3, for piano by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1950-1960 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
5.
Barcarolle No. 3, for piano by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1963 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Barcarolle No. 4, for piano by Clément Jacob
Performer:  Bernard Arbus (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1963 
Date of Recording: 03/2011 
Venue:  La Maison de la Musique de Cap Découvert 
Length: 5 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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