Notes and Editorial Reviews
Booklet Notes are in French only.
ZBINDEN Three Preludes. Jazz Sonatine. Concerto da camera1. Four Solitudes. Plaun la Greina. Méditation sur le nom de G.E.R.B.E.R. Jazzific 59–16. Concerto de Gibraltar3 • Julien-François Zbinden (pn); 1Victor Desarzens,
2Jean-Marie Auberson, 3Roger Volet, cond; 1Lausanne CO; 2Swiss R Ens of Light Music; 3Romand Wind Ens • GALLO 1403 (70:14)
Now in his mid-90s, the Swiss composer-pianist Julien-François Zbinden is well deserving of this handsome tribute from the Swiss Radio and Television documenting his interpretations of his own works for piano. Although his large output of music in all forms over recent decades (including several symphonies, concertante works, choral and chamber pieces) veered away from most of the influences evident in this program, his studies with the Gallic-oriented Réné Gerber, plus his early years as a jazz pianist, had a crucial impact on his personal evolution as a serious composer.
The delightful Concerto da camera (1950–51) for Piano and String Orchestra is obviously modeled on that minor masterpiece, the Honegger Concertino, where the jazz elements are deftly integrated into a sophisticatedly dissonant Modernist idiom. (Too bad the Swiss Radio could not have unearthed an archival recording of Zbinden’s full-scale Piano Concerto of the early 1940s, which has yet to be recorded.) The later Jazzific 59–16 of 1958 for jazz group and strings exemplifies the lighter aspects of the Zbinden personality. In some respects this work resembles its notorious near-contemporary, the Concerto for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra by Rolf Liebermann, which is a much more ambitiously assertive statement of the “Third Stream” viewpoint. The program ends with a premiere recording of the spirited Concerto de Gibraltar of 1959 for piano and wind orchestra, whose strongly Hispanic character derives from materials intended as incidental music for a theater piece of Iberian origin.
Interspersed with these three works are various piano pieces authoritatively performed by the composer himself (Three Preludes, Jazz Sonatine, Four Solitudes), all also written in the 1950s, plus two more recent piano pieces (an excerpt from Three Helvetian Images, and a 90th birthday homage to his teacher Réné Gerber). All of these “historical” recordings are played with a certain kind of melancholy yet magisterial flair and recorded with vibrancy. This valuable CD is an important contribution to the discographical legacy of 20th-century Swiss music, French division.
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Works on This Recording
Concerto da Camera for Piano and String Orchestra, Op. 16 by Julien-François Zbinden
Julien-François Zbinden (Piano)
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950-1951; Switzerland
Quatre Solitudes, Op. 17 by Julien-François Zbinden
Images helvétiques (3), Op. 65: Plaun la Greina by Julien-François Zbinden
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