NICOLAS BACRI IN CHINESE (Bottom page)
Nicolas Bacri in Japanese : http://www.geocities.co.jp/NatureLand/5390/impressionist/bacri/index.html
Nicolas Bacri at Composers Villa (Torino, italia) English CV and list of works
"Obviously, Bacri is the most important french composer since Messiaen and Dutilleux..."
John Borstlap, in "The Classical Revolution, Thoughts on new music in the 21st Century", Scarecrow Press, inc. 2012
"One of France's most promising composers."
Roger Nichols, Gramophone
"One of the outstanding figures in contemporary French music. His music is clearly conceived from
a will to arouse emotions, emotions that hold an innate sense of the flow of development."
Uncle Dave Lewis (All Music)
"(Bacri) is a composer capable of renewing an old-fashioned medium."
John Allison, The Times
"One of the more endearing characteristics of Nicolas Bacri’s music is that he never outstretches
or overworks his material thus achieving some remarkable concision. This is never at the expense
of expression and communication."
Hubert Culot (Classical MusicWeb)
"I can recommend this music because Bacri is in fact a composer with a recognizable and
(more importantly) interesting personal style, and he's a real craftsman."
David Hurwitz (Classics Today)
"Nicolas Bacri is one of those living composers who offer hope for the future."
Rob Barnett (Classical MusicWeb)
"Bacri is a master orchestrator".
Jacques Doucelin, Le Figaro
"This is the example of a "simple" music in outlook which reveals, when played, an unexpected complexity."
Gérard Condé, in "Le quatuor à cordes en france de 1750 à nos jours", AFPM, Patrimoine
"Among the composers of today, of those who refuse all conformist avant-garde, those are prone to tonality,
Nicolas Bacri is certainly the most solid and the most influential."
Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la musique
"By chosing Neo-Tonality, Bacri seems to me to have not opted for facility, but rather quite the contrary.
By insisting on a composing style that satisfies the academics, his music speaks directly to the most vast of audiences;
like that of an Arthur Honegger, of which Bacri appears to be a sort of spiritual inheritor. "
"Bacri has become one of the most important representatives of a global plan to compose in parallel to tradition."
Christoph Schlueren, Crescendo (Germany)
"Bacri is one of the most creative and most gifted French composers of his generation."
Brice Couturier, Marianne
"His music is a universe of beauty into which one is transported, where experiences and poignant emotions
of a rare strength are relived."
Benoît Jacquemin, Crescendo (Belgium)
"Nicolas Bacri has long since been established as one of the most original and profound of French composers."
Jacques Bonnaure, Répertoire
"The breadth of his expressive palette, of which his talents and cultural background have even further enriched,
is quite disconcerting."
Jérémie Szpirglas, Le Monde de la Musique
"Bacri escapes all forms of labels."
Nicolas Baron, Diapason
"His music, transcending from surges of lyricism and pure lighting, is one of the most moving of our time.
Brought to maturity, Nicolas Bacri is only concerned with expressivity. "
Jennifer Lesieur, Classica
"Bacri’s style defies all classifications, periods and landmarks. He is an unbound, independant creator
whose musical language is powerfully original."
Etienne Muller, Anaclase
"The assured sense of his compositional style, the audacity to create unexpected musical situations
as well as the amplitude of the orchestration are what characterise such a composer."
Elisabeth Sikora, Diapason
"This music, (to which we can owe tutelage from composers such as Britten and Chostakovitch) is real
because it is simply inspired."
Marc Blanchet, La Nouvelle Revue Française
"Bacri is only ever concerned with expressing a rich personality. He is not, however, concerned with exploiting the latest trend."
Jacques Di Vanni, Compact Disc Magazine
Born in november 1961, Nicolas Bacri is one of France's most frequently performed and recorded composers.
After a period marked by highly polyphonic atonalism (his First Symphony is dedicated to Elliott Carter) his interest in the musical past is an earnest, and constantly renewed exploration of his own musical mind. Not a throwback, a recovery, or more explicitely, a refoundation from pure twenty-century music to twenty-first, unashamed of its traditional based roots.
The composer of more than one hundred and fourty works in many genres, he has received such recognition as Prix de Rome (two years scholarship, Villa Medici, 1983-85), Prix Stéphane Chapelier (S.A.C.E.M.), Prix André Caplet de l'Académie des Beaux Arts, Prix Pineau-Chaillou 1991 (City of Nantes), Prix Hervé Dugardin (S.A.C.E.M.), Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque 1993, Prix Georges Wildenstein de l'Académie des Beaux Arts, Casa de Velazquez (two years scholarship, Madrid, 1991-93), Prix Pierre Cardin de l'Académie des Beaux Arts, Lauréat de la Fondation d'Entreprise du Crédit National (Natixis), Prix Claude Arrieu (S.A.C.E.M.), Lauréat du 5ème Concours Jeunes Artistes Européens : Young composers, Leipzig (B.P. Oil Europe) and, last but not least, Grand Prix de la Musique symphonique 2006 (S.A.C.E.M.).
Recent important commissions have come from French Ministry of Culture, Radio-France, Orchestre des Jeunes de la Méditérannée, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Pro Quartet...
Since a major breakthrough in january 1985 with the first performance of his Violin Concerto op. 7 in Radio-France, N. Bacri's orchestral works have been championed, among others, by China National Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, European Camerata, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France, London Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, Spanish National Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Tokyo Philharmonic, WDR Sinfonie Orchester-Köln,... With such conductors as Kees Backels, Michel Béroff, Martin Brabbins, Semyon Bychkov, Constantinos Carydis, Daniel Harding, Richard Hickox, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Christoph Koncz, Louis Langrée, Josep Pons, Yves Prin, Leonard Slatkin, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, David Stern, Arturo Tamayo, Yann-Pascal Tortelier, Pascal Verrot... and with soloists such as Lisa Batiashvili, Sharon Bezaly, Peter Bruns, Renaud Capuçon, Gérard Caussé, Olivier Charlier, Malena Ernman, Lorenzo Gatto, Philippe Graffin, Natalia Gutman, Marie Hallynck, Marie-Josèphe Jude, Kim Kashkashian, Laurent Korcia, François Leleux, Lindsay Quartet, Emile Naoumoff, Régis Pasquier, Patricia Petibon, Sandrine Piau, Alina Pogoskina, Eliane Reyes, Bruno Rigutto, Baiba Skride, Cédric Tiberghien, Oliver Triendl, Sebastien Van Kuijk, Jean-Pierre Wallez, Pieter Wispelwey...
(See complete list of performers in the french biography section).
Bacri made his debuts as conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra with his A DAY (Four Images for orchestra) at the Château de Versailles 's Royal Opera in september 2013.
Cds containing N. Bacri's music released since fifteen years includes (mainly) First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth string quartets, Fourth Symphony (Classical Symphony "Sturm und Drang"), Concerto for cello and orchestra, Second Concerto for violin and orchestra (3 Canti e Finale), Une Prière, for violin and orchestra (RCA BMG Red Seal), Flute Concerto, Concerto da camera for clarinet and strings, The Four Seasons concertos, three Piano Trios, Sonatas for piano, violin and piano, cello and piano, viola and piano, etc...
Two vocal works are recorded by Deutsche Grammophon : his Melodias de la Melancolia, (Patricia Petibon/Spain National Orchestra/Josep Pons) and his Lamento (Malena Ernmann/Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi)
Bacri wrote a one-act opera with the famous french writer Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt with the same characters of Cosi fan Tutte few years before, Cosi Fanciulli played twelve times at Théâtre des Champs-élysées in june 2014
"After studying music analysis and composition with Françoise Gangloff-Levéchin, Christian Manen and Louis Saguer (from 1979), he entered the Paris Conservatoire (graduated 1983, first prize for composition), where his teachers were Claude Ballif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg and Michel Philippot.
From 1987 he was at the head of the chamber music department of Radio-France, a position he relinquished in 1991 to devote himself entirely to composition. He had also held residencies at the Casa de Velasquez (Spain) and with a number of French orchestras (from 1993).
His early works, which culminate with the First Symphony (1983-4, dedicated to Elliott Carter), are rooted in a constructivist post-Webernian aesthetic. Later compositions, beginning with the Cello Concerto (1985/87, dedicated to Henri Dutilleux), draw on the melodic continuity displaced by the predominant aesthetic of the postwar period. This change of style has placed Bacri in the musical aesthetic of his time, where a spirit of reconciliation prevails." (Philippe Michel, Grove Dictionary of Music, edition 2001)
From the 1990's onward he continued to explore all possibilities offered by "the sudden or progressive irruption of modernity in tradition and vice-versa". His catalogue includes seven symphonies, concertos for two pianos, violin (4), cello, flute, clarinet (2), trumpet (2), Les Quatre Saisons (four concertos for oboe, violin, viola, cello and strings) and numerous other concertante works amongst Une Prière (RCA BMG Red Seal), seven cantatas, two one-act operas, nine string quartets, four piano trios, sonatas for piano (3), violin (3), cello (2), viola, clarinet, 6 solo cello suites as well as numerous other instrumental or vocal works amongst Melodias de la Melancolia recorded by Patricia Petibon ( DGG) and Lamento by Malena Ernman (DGG).
Whatever the school or current to which they claim allegiance, contemporary composers may
for the most part be classified according to two main esthetic trends.
Many of them coin their style under the influence of spontaneism and according to the hedonistic drive
that is characteristic of our consumer society ; those are often want to try to restore an idiom
or writing methods that once were attractive to a relatively large audience of music lovers.
Some others are dominated by a non-negotiable radicality and contend that artists must resolutely be
the spearheads of society, even if that means cutting themselves from it, as long as it has not been able
to incorporate the new codes that they put in place ;
these composers often claim post-Webernian inheritance of integral serialism.
However, this alternative does not account for the whole of the musical landscape, which is fortunate.
Many artists contunuously affirm their independence vis-à-vis both of these trends ;
they often do so by emphasis expressiveness, witout resorting obvious effects or clichés,
as do a number of neo-tonal composers with delight, and conversely, without prioritising
totalitarian and total rationality at the expense of expressiveness.
Among those who seek genuine, original paths, Nicolas Bacri stands out by his thought process
whose sincerity is authenticated not only by the artistic restlesnes which drives him to continuously
wonder about the aims of his art and put into questions his composition habits,
but also by esthetic choices that appear as a necessary consequences of a musical reflection and practice
- as opposed to the incidental fallout of ideological presuppositions.
Bernard Fournier (Histoire du Quatuor à cordes, Fayard, 2010)
John BORSTLAP, author of "The Classical Revolution, Thoughts on new music in the 21st Century", Scarecrow Press, inc. 2012august 2016Nicolas Bacri is one of the great composers of our time, and an expert on musical aesthetics, musical philosophy and theory, and a gifted writer on music, and a brilliant conductor of his own works. He is one of the leading composers of a renaissance of French music after the erosion of postwar modernist ideologies.
In his theoretical work Notes étrangères, Nicolas Bacri reflects on his position as a composer today and makes the following statement:
“My music is not neo-Classical, it is Classical,
for it retains the timeless aspect of Classicism : the rigour of expression.
My music is not neo-Romantic, it is Romantic,
for it retains the timeless aspect of Romanticism : the density of expression.
My music is Modern, for it retains the timeless aspect of Modernism :
the broadening of the field of expression.
My music is Postmodern, for it retains the timeless aspect of Postmodernism :
the mixture of techniques of expression.”
He may perhaps have begun to develop this independence of spirit as far back as 1979 while studying
with composer Louis Saguer (1907–91), a man of subtle but freely inspired and individual creative powers.
Bacri also trained at the Paris Conservatoire (1980–83), studying composition with Serge Nigg and
Michel Philippot, analysis with Claude Ballif and orchestration with Marius Constant.
Between 1983 and 1985 he began his career with a residency at the Villa Medici in Rome.
Gérald Hugon (Sleevenotes for the Naxos piano works CD by Eliane Reyes)
The two existing periods of Nicolas Bacri’s music do not enable one to know whether the second is likely to be the last, or whether the composer’s changes of style will continue to surprise his public. It is a gratifyingly permanent process of change. A composer might well show his concern for avoiding conformity in a quest for the highest degree of authenticity […] He considers it ‘normal for a musician to re-examine the tenets of the most influential composers of the previous generation’. His first works were atonal, and therefore firmly entrenched in problems which he considers the prerogative of composers ‘of the preceding generation’ who influenced him at the beginning of his own career. This explains that he can use the expression ‘examining the possibilities of renewal’ only when he progressively considers ‘the tonal aspect’ – non-functional tonality in music, nevertheless using ‘sounds attracting or repelling each other, and from harmonic and rhythmic tension and easing of tension’ as ‘unable to be avoided in the musical discourse as he understands it today’.
Nicolas Bacri’s aesthetic conversion does not imply any kind of controversial intention. He sees it simply as ‘experimenting with new ways of attempting to come closer to his fundamental nature. He respects composers born at the beginning of the century whose musical evolution has been diametrically opposed to his own. His music is directly concerned with progress towards ‘tonal feeling’, which he thought had completely disappeared at the start of his musical life; he was to rediscover it at the same time as his Hebrew, Mediterranean and central European roots – (his great-grandfather came from Alsace, and his name was Meyer). From one work to the next, it follows a surprisingly progressive aesthetic curve, constantly stimulated by the same rich lyrical inspiration with the same dark colours, violent and tense, verging on the austere and the tragic.
Hélène Thiébault (translation : Geoffrey Marshall)
Works dedicated to Nicolas Bacri :
Claude Ballif : Quatuor à cordes n° 5
Louis-Noël Belaubre : Sonate n°12 op. 96 pour piano
Jacques Boisgallais : Sonate n° 1 pour violon et piano
Olivier Greif : Sonate pour piano n° 21 "Codex Domini"
Olivier Greif : Fugue extraite de "Portraits et apparitions", pour piano
Roland Havas : Quatuor à cordes op. 3
Frederick Martin : Le Tombeau de Chostakovitch, pour quatuor à cordes
Frederick Martin : Lug, pour orchestre
René Maillard : Quatuor à cordes op. 20
Adrian Williams : Hommage à Antonio Gaudi, pour violoncelle et guitare
Marie-Anne Lescourret : Introduction à l'esthétique (Champ/Université/Flammarion, 2002)
For more detailed informations go to the french biography
See a large article by David Wright on Bacri's output at "ils ont dit" : Etudes
or go to
(Selective list as published in GROVE)
Stage : Fleur et le miroir magique (conte lyrique pour enfants, l, C. Juliet), op. 56, 1996-7; Entre terres (Cinq tableaux pour récitant, orchestre et choeurs, l, P. Murgier), op. 114, 2009; Cosi fanciulli (comédie lyrique, l, E.E. Schmitt), op. 133, 2012-3.
Orch : 7 syms., (op. 11, 1983-4; op. 22 "Sinfonia dolorosa" 1986/90; op. 33 "Sinfonia da requiem", with Mez and chorus, 1988-94; op. 49 "Classical Symphony Sturm und Drang", 1995-6; op. 55 "Conc. for Orch", 1996-7; op. 60, 1998; op. 124 "Sinfonia tripartita", 2003/11-12); "Ahae's Day" (Four images for orchestra), op. 130, orch, 2013; Partita op. 88b, orch, 2004; "A Short overture", op. 84, orch, 1978/2002-03; Via Crucis op. 107, wind orch, 2008; Musica per archi, op. 36b, str orch., 1991-2; Sinfonietta, op. 72, str orch, 2001; "Elegy in memoriam D.S.C.H." op. 85, str orch, 2003;
with soloist : 4 vn Conc., (op. 7, 1982-3; op.29 "3 Canti e Finale", 1987-9; op. 83, 1999-2000/2003; op. 116, "Winter's Night" (Concerto-Méditation op. 116), vl, str orch, 2008-09); "Une Prière", op. 52 vn/va/vc, orch, 1995-7; 2 clarinet Conc., (op. 20 "Capriccio notturno" 1986-7; op. 61 "Concerto da camera" 1998); 2 tpt Conc., (op. 39, 1992; op. 65, "Im Angedenken J. S. Bachs", 2000); Vc Conc., op.17, 1985/87; Requiem, op.23, va/vc, chbr orch, 1987-8; Folia, op. 30, va/vc, str orch, 1990; Symphonie concertante. op. 51, 2 pf, str orch, 1995-6/rev. 2006; Fl. Conc., op. 63, 1999; Divertimento, op. 66, vl, pf, orch, 1999-2000; Notturno, op. 74, ob, str orch, 2001 ; "Les 4 saisons" (Concerto nostalgico op. 80 n° 1 "L'automne", ob/vn, vc/bn, str orch, 2000/02; Concerto amoroso op. 80 n° 2 "Le printemps", ob, vl (or two violins), str orch, 2004-05; Concerto tenebroso op. 80 n°3 "L'hiver", ob/vn, va, str orch, 2009; Concerto luminoso op. 80 n°4 "L'été", ob/vn, vn, va, vc, str orch, 2010); Partita concertante op. 88c, fl (or oboe, or clarinet, or bassoon), str orch, 2004, and other pieces.
Vocal : Notturni, op. 14, S, 7 inst, 1985-6 (E. Cetrangolo); 6 cantatas, (Fils d'Abraham : 3 Cantatas op. 33 from Sym. n°3, 1988-94; n°4, op. 44 "Sonnet 66, W. Shakespeare", Mez, str orch/4 vc, 1994-5; n°5, op. 77 "Isiltasunaren ortzadarra", Mez, mixed chorus, orch, 2001-02; n° 6 op. 87 "Cantata vivaldiana sur le Nisi Dominus", CT/Mez, str orch, 2004/rev. 10); n° 7 op. 126 "Deux visages de l'amour", S/Mez/Ten/B, pf/str orch/st qt, 2012/15); Lamento, op. 81, "Ach das ich Wassers genug hätte"(after Jeremy), CT/Mez, str orch/5 vc, 2002; Three Love Songs (Rûmi), op. 96, S, pf/orch, 2005; Melodias de la melancolia (Escobar-Molina), op. 119, S, pf/orch, 2010; Drei Romantische Liebesgesange (Rückert, Goethe-Willemer, Chamisso), op. 126 n° 1, S/Mez/Ten/B, pf/str orch/st qt; Chants d'amour (Verhaeren), op. 126 n°2, S/Mez/Ten/B, pf/str orch/st qt
Choral : Sinfonia da requiem, op. 33 (see Orch); 3 Alleluia, op. 41, female (or children) chorus, 1994; 4 Alleluia, op. 41b, female (or children) chorus, orch, 1994; 5 Motets de souffrance et de consolation, op. 59, mixed chorus (W. Raleigh, Psalms, Jeremy), 1998; Nisi Dominus (6th Motet op. 62) mixed chorus, 1998; Benedicat Israel Domino (Trittico mistico op. 64), mixed chorus, 2000; O Lux Beatissima (7th Motet op. 71), female (or children) chorus, 2001; Beatus Vir (8th Motet op. 78), mixed chorus or six solo voices, 2002; Lamento (9th Motet op. 81b), solo soprano and mixed chorus or six solo voices (Jeremy), 2002; Stabat Mater, op. 86, mixed chorus, solo vn, S and Mez solos, 2003; Miserere (10th Motet op. 93) four solo voices and mixed chorus or five solo voices (O. Dhénin), 2004; Hope (11th Motet op. 113) female chorus or four solo voices, 2009
Chbr : without pf : 9 Str qts, (op.1 "Fantaisie", 1980; op.5 "5 Pieces", 1982; op. 18 "Esquisses pour un Tombeau" 1985-9; op. 42 "Omaggio a Beethoven", 1989-94; op. 57, 1997; op. 97, 2005-06; op. 101 "Variations sérieuses", 2006-07; op. 112 "Omaggio a Haydn", 2008-09; op. 140 "Canto di speranza", 2015); Duo, op. 25, vn, vc, 1987-92; "Sonata in memoriam Bela Bartok", op. 95, 2 vn, 2005; 2 Str Trios (op. 8, "6 Sonatas", 1982-3; op. 37 "Divertimento", 1991-2); Str sextet op. 36, 1991-2; Concerto da camera, op. 61, cl, str qt, 1998; Divertimento, op. 37b, cl, str trio, 1991-2; Im Volkston, op.43, cl, vn, vc, 1994; Night Music, op. 73, cl, vc, 2001; Partita da camera, op. 88d, fl (or oboe, or clarinet, or bassoon), vl, vla,vc, (after partita concertante), 2004; Hommage à Foujita (Sérénade concertante for flute & string trio), op. 141; Méditation d'après un thème de Beethoven, op. 94, 4 vlc (or more), 2005 and other pieces
with pf : 4 Pf Trios (op. 34, "Toccata sinfonica", also for pf quintet, 1987-93; op. 47 "Les contrastes", 1995; op. 54 "Sonata notturna", 1996-7, also for fl, vla and pf; op. 98 "Sonata seria", 2006); Sonata op.32, vc, pf, 1990-94; Sonata op. 40, vn, pf, 1993-4; Sonata n°2 op. 75, vn, pf, 2002; Torso (Sonata n°3) op. 138, vn, pf, 2014; Torso II op. 138b, vn, pf, 2014; Sonata da camera op. 67, vla/vln/vc/fl/cl/sax, pf, 1977/97-2000; "4 Elégies" op. 127, vc, pf, 2012; Sonata n°2 op.128, vc, pf, 2012; 3 Impromptus op. 115, fl, pf, 2009 and other pieces
Solo instr : for pf : 3 Sonatas (op. 68 "Sonata corta", 1978-79/rev. 2003; op. 105, 2007/rév. 2008; op. 124 "Sonata impetuosa", 2010); Fantaisie op. 134, 2014; 9 Preludes (op. 24, 1988; op. 28, 1989; op. 33 n°3b, 1991; op. 46, 1994-95); "L'enfance de l'art" op. 69; Prelude & fugue op. 91, 2004; Nocturne pour la main gauche op. 104, 2007; Diletto classico "3 Cahiers de piano en hommage aux maîtres baroques et classiques" op. 100, 2007; Saisons (4 Intermezzi op. 123), 2010/12 and other pieces
Other instr : 6 Suites for vc (op. 31 n°1, 2 & 3 "in memoriam B. Britten", 1987-93; op. 50, 1994/96; op. 70b, 2000-01/03; op. 88, 2004); Métamorphoses for vc op. 121, 2011-12; 3 Sonatas for vn (op. 45 "Sonata breve" (Sonatina in omaggio a Mozart), 1994; op. 53, 1996; op. 76 "Kol Nidrei sonata", 2002); Sonate-Méditation op. 106, Baryton-violin/vl/vla/vc, 2008; "Sonata variata" op. 70, vla, 2000-01; Mondorf sonatina op. 58 n°2, cl, 1997; 12 Monologues pascaliens op. 92, 2004, fl (or oboe) and other pieces
Main publishers : Durand, Paris; Le chant du Monde, Paris; Alphonse Leduc, Paris
Other publishers : Salabert, Paris; Peermusic classical, Hamburg-New-York; Gérard Billaudot éditeur, Paris; Delatour-France
Bibliography : Dictionnaire biographique des musiciens, Théodore Baker/Nicolas Slonimsky, adaptation Alain Paris, editions Robert Laffont (1995) ; Quatuors contemporains, Gérard Condé, in Le Quatuor à cordes en France de 1750 à nos jours, éditions de l'Association Française pour le Patrimoine Musical, Centre National du Livre (1995) ; La musique classique pour les nuls, David Pogue, Scott Speck, Claire Delamarche, éditions First (1998) ; Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la musique de chambre, Walter Wilson Cobbett, adaptation Alain Paris, Robert Laffont (1999) ; Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la musique de chambre, Walter Wilson Cobbett/adaptation Alain Paris, Robert Laffont (1999) ; The New Grove Dictionary of music and musicians, ed. 2001 ; Nouvelle musique, Stéphane Lelong, éditions Balland; Histoire du Quatuor à cordes, Bernard Fournier (Vol. III, De l'entre-deux-guerres au XXIème Siècle), éditions Fayard (2011) ; The Classical Revolution, Thoughts on new music in the 21st Century, John Bortslap, Scarecrow Press inc. (2012)
JOHN ALLISON, The Times, May 15 2000 <email@example.com>
London, UK - 15.05.2000 18:07 (MSK)
KIROV DIAGILEV SERIES:
Philharmonia Orch/ Gergiev/Brabbins Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1
(...) Earlier in the evening, the Philharmonia's Music of Today series had featured the French composer Nicolas Bacri. Now in his late thirties, he has given up an earlier post-serial style for music concerned with colour and sonority. We heard an impressive performance of his Capriccio Notturno (op. 20) for clarinet and orchestra, with Martyn Brabbins conducting and Andrew Sparling the virtuosic soloist, but after a hypnotic, darkly scored opening the music seemed to be little more than a parade of ear-catching things. At least the movements of his String Sextet (op. 36) played here had urgency and meaning, and suggested that he is a composer capable of renewing an old-fashioned medium.
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SYMPHONY N°4 op. 49 (Classical Symphony "Sturm und Drang"), Flute Concerto op. 63, Concerto Amoroso, Concerto Nostalgico, Nocturne
François Leleux, Lisa Batiashvili, Sharon Bezaly, Riita Pesola/Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
These splendidly eloquent, attractive, tonal works all date from the last decade. Concerto Amoroso combines suggestions of Sibelian development with Shostakovich-like harmonic progressions (especially evident in the searching slow movement), in a neo-classical structure. There is seriousness and emotional depth at the core of the piece, dismissed by a return to the liveliness of the opening section in a brief coda. The flute concerto recalls Nielsen’s, and Busoni’s flute Divertimento; in the course of 15 minutes the music traverses many moods, all narrated by the lively, lyrical solo part. Concerto nostalgico opens with a brooding, appropriately autumnal meditation for the cello, and the whole work exudes a chilly, desolate atmosphere; not morose, but uneasy and dark-hued throughout. The brief Nocturne takes this shadowy intensity even further; a somber meditation masking shattering despair, the atmosphere of many a Shostakovich slow movement. The succinct Symphony n°4 (Classical "sturm und drang"), its four movements hommages to significant 20th-century composers (though without stylistic borrowings for the most part), is a lively neoclassical specimen that inevitably, and appropriately, invites comparison with Prokofiev’s similar essay - and in fact, Prokofiev, not one of the named composers, seems the most frequently referenced in the course of the work. Not trying to be taken too seriously, this exquisitely crafted work is an entertaining delight, light but not lightweight. Tapiola Sinfonietta; Jean-Jacques Kantorow.
Records International, november 2009
Concerto nostalgico “L’automne” and Concerto amoroso “Le printemps” are the first two panels of Bacri’s work-in-progress Les quatre saisons Op.80, a series of four concertos for oboe and other instruments. The third panel Concerto tenebroso “L’hiver” for oboe, violin and strings was first performed in January 2010. The first performance of the fourth panel Concerto luminoso “L’été” for oboe, violin, cello and strings is to take place in spring 2011.
Concerto amoroso “Le printemps” for oboe, violin and strings is in a single movement in which a long central Notturno is framed by two lively, rhythmically alert outer sections (Mosaïca and Mosaïca II). The outer sections display Neo-classical characteristics whereas the central Nocturne is at times quite intense. The scoring for oboe and cello imbues Concerto nostalgico “L’automne” for oboe, cello and strings with an appropriately autumnal colour. This, too, is in one single movement falling into four sections played without a break. The music unfolds seamlessly from the dark mood of the opening through various contrasting sections (Scherzo alla Fuga and Romanza) before reaching the beautiful, appeased epilogue.
Nicolas Bacri has composed quite a number of concertos or concertante works. The Concerto for Flute and Orchestra is scored for fairly small orchestral forces (double woodwind, two horns, percussion and strings) and is in three movements. The first movement opens with a slow introduction leading into the main part of the movement Allegro moderato that nevertheless allows for a variety of moods. The second movement Estatico is a Nocturne of sorts - one with some very dark corners. The final movement opens with some energy, but moods vary again until the music reaches its conclusion in a night music à la Bartók in which it eventually thins away calmly.
The short Nocturne Op.90 for cello and strings is in a fairly straightforward arch-form with slow outer sections framing a more animated and tense central one. This compact work is - to my mind - a good example of Bacri’s music-making in that the music says all it has to say with not a single note wasted.
Nicolas Bacri has composed six symphonies so far and his Seventh Symphony will be premiered in autumn 2011. The Symphony No.4 “Sturm und Drang” Op.49 was written for the Orchestre de Picardie of which Bacri was composer-in-residence. The orchestra and its conductor Louis Langrée had dedicated a concert-cycle to “Sturm und Drang” compositions of the late-Classical era and wanted a new work in the same aesthetic. Bacri, however, wanted to write his own music while paying homage to some older beloved composers. The four movements of the Fourth Symphony are thus meant as homage to composers of the early 20th century (Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Weill respectively) although the music never directly quotes from or alludes to their music. The work as a whole is also a tribute to a number of other 20th century composers such as Ravel, Prokofiev and Walton. The Fourth Symphony is Bacri’s Classical Symphony paying homage to the musical past without a single hint of pastiche or parody.
One of the more endearing characteristics of Nicolas Bacri’s music is that he never outstretches or overworks his material thus achieving some remarkable concision. This is never at the expense of expression and communication. As early as 1983, when his music was still fairly adventurous, Bacri inscribed a phrase from Tristan Tzara on one of his scores: “I know that I carry melody within me and I am not afraid of it”. The works recorded here - as so much else in Bacri’s output - clearly “carry melody and are not afraid of it”.
All these performances are excellent and superbly recorded, and the whole - Martin Anderson’s detailed and well-informed insert notes included - is up to BIS’ best standards. This is a very fine release by any count.
Hubert Culot, Music web, Len Mullenger, February 2010
Nicolas Bacri (b. 1961) once inscribed a phrase from Tristan Tzara on one of his scores: ‘I know that I carry melody within me and I am not afraid of it.’ As CD annotator Martin Anderson notes, growing up in France in the 1980s, with the domination of Boulez and the contemporary music establishment, it took a lot of courage to compose large compositions that were written in a tonal musical language. But compose he did - 6 symphonies, 8 string quartets and numerous concertos. Bacri in the late eighties was head of chamber music for Radio France. Since then he has been a full time composer. The works on this disc were all written in the last decade and represent his preference for the concerto.
Concerto amoroso (‘Le Printemps’) for oboe, violin and string orchestra is notable for the middle movement’s gorgeous aria that’s transformed and passed between violin and oboe. The outer movements are brighter and faster. Lisa Batiashvili and Francois Leleux perform beautifully. Bacri floats the flute over an orchestra of many colored moods in his Flute Concerto of 1999. A mood of sinister reverie pervades the middle movement. A peripatetic third movement complete this constantly changing work. Flutist Sharon Bezaly is her usual excellent self.
The Concerto Nostalgico (‘L’Automne’) of 2003 for oboe, cello and string orchestra is another short study in mood variation, but the tone here is darker, with the cello parrying with the oboe to find shards of light that pierce the clouds. The Nocturne for cello and string orchestra of 2004 migrates from a somber adagio to a manic Intenso and back again. The Fourth Symphony (Classical Symphony ‘Sturm und Drang') of 1995 was written in the style of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, containing musical homages to Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Kurt Weill. It’s a clever and delightful musical satire.
All of the music on this disc is tonal, accessible and ably performed by the soloists and the marvellous Tapiola Sinfonietta. The usual close, clear and reverberant sound maintains the high reputation that BIS has established. This CD is an answer to those who still believe that music written within the last ten years is unlistenable. (...)
Robert Moon, Audiophile audition, january 2010
Marie Hallynck/Cedric Tiberghien : Sonatas by Debussy, Britten & Bacri
Bacri’s Sonata op. 32 is a very dark work, haunted by oblique allusions to (though no actual quotation from) the Dies irae. In four economical, highly charged movements cast in a tonal language that recalls Britten and Shostakovich (making it a very apt coupling for the former here), the work is by turns angry, elegiac, despairing, and finally, uneasily serene. A very striking work indeed, that might well be subtitled Requiem. The Quasi Variazioni predates Bacri’s embrace of his recent definitively tonal idiom, though it is by no means of any other recognizable dogma, just more contrapuntally involved and somewhat more harmonically thorny than the later work.
Records International, february 2009
String Quartet No.3 Op.18 (1985/8, rev. 1989) [8:04]
String Quartet No.4 Op.42 (1989/95) [23:03]
String Quartet No.5 Op.57 (1997) [24:51]
String Quartet No.6 Op.97 (2005/6) [13:24]
Recorded : Saint-Marcel Lutheran Church, Paris, 11-14 April 2007
AR RE-SE 2007-1 [70:15]
By Uncle Dave Lewis (ALLMUSIC)
The 2007 release of Nicolas Bacri: String Quartets Nos. 3,4,5,6 finds Nicolas Bacri as one of the outstanding figures in contemporary French music, a composer who began his career in the 1980s as a serialist. While he hasn't exactly turned his coat inside out, Bacri is hardly a card-carrying member of the fraternity at this juncture -- his music is clearly designed to elicit specific emotional responses and has a natural sense of flow and development, not to mention ample excitement and drama. There is never a sense anywhere in this music where the composer is saying, "Here are the elements the music is made out of, and there -- is the result." Bacri's music is the sum total of contact with a wide range of influences and impulses, yet like Henri Dutilleux, his own voice is placed at the fore.
While Bacri has garnered acclaim for his work in a variety of genres, his cycle of string quartets -- which remains in progress (String Quartet No. 7 premiered in 2007) -- has elicited particular praise among European critics. French label Ar Re-Se has made available Bacri's quartets Nos. 3-6, composed between 1985 and 2006, with the Psophos Quartet. This is a fortunate match of artist and composer, as the Psophos plays as a matter of routine the quartets of composers to whom Bacri's music can at least be superficiallycompared -- Berg, Bartók, Dutilleux, and Webern are all in their standing repertoire. Founded in 1997, the Psophos is a young quartet, and it plays Bacri's music with all the strength, aggression, and passion of youth. For those who like contemporary music in the "classic" twentieth century style, yet prefer it not too aerodynamic and abstract, nor too minimal and cloying, Ar Re-Se's Nicolas Bacri: String Quartets Nos. 3,4,5,6 will be like a breath of fresh air. Moreover, anyone who loves string quartets really ought to hear what fireworks the Psophos Quartet can set off; this disc is both very thrilling and intellectually satisfying.
Now in his late forties, Nicolas Bacri, who studied with Louis Saguer and later, when barely eighteen, with Claude Ballif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg and Michel Philippot at the CNSM in Paris. In 1983 he was awarded a First Prize and few months ago was selected for a two years residence at the Villa Médicis. During his stay in Rome, he had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Scelsi. These meetings had some influence on his music making, mainly in making him aware of the value of sound as a thing in itself, although his music does not resemble Scelsi’s. Bacri has evidently learned from the Italian composer but his own music does not display any similar ascetic attitude as that of Scelsi. I think that Bacri’s musical style might be fairly described as 20th Century lingua franca having roots in the so-called Second Viennese School as well as in a much stylistically wider tradition. Interestingly enough, his Cello Concerto is dedicated to the memory of Frank Bridge whose Oration had made a deep impression, and some of his cantatas (available on L’empreinte digitale ED 13170) often bring Gerald Finzi to mind. (Incidentally, his Cantata No.4 Op.44b is inscribed “In memoriam Gerald Finzi”.) He has gathered an impressive number of awards, and many of his works have gained worldwide recognition. Some of you may remember that his compact, though quite impressive and strongly expressive Symphony No.6 Op.60 (1998) was one of the six finalists of the 2003 Masterprize. As can be seen in the above details, he already has a sizeable and substantial output including six symphonies, a number of concertos, seven string quartets (the String Quartet No.7 “Variations sérieuses” Op.101 was composed for the 2007 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition and is inscribed Robert Simpson in memoriam), a substantial number of cantatas as well as a wide variety of chamber music. I first came to know his music when I found a second-hand copy of what I believe to be the first CD ever entirely devoted to his works (Et’Cetera KTC 1149 with four concerto-like works for cello and orchestra – his Cello Concerto Op.17 – as well as works for viola and orchestra and violin and orchestra). Incidentally, this disc was awarded the First Prize of the Nouvelle Académie du Disque in 1993. It is still worth looking out for because it provides a fair introduction to Bacri’s music. Similarly, the release under review allows for some fair appreciation of Bacri’s musical progress over the years since the four string quartets recorded here were composed between 1985 and 2006. Curiously enough, though, they are presented in reverse chronological order which – to a certain extent – is somewhat misjudged; but this will be about the only reservation that I will voice about this release.
The String Quartet No.3 Op.18, subtitled Esquisses pour un tombeau, was composed between 1985 and 1988 and revised in 1989. This fairly short work in three concise movements played without break is inscribed “In memoriam Alexander Zemlinsky” and bears a superscription drawn from Shakespeare’s The Tempest : “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded by a sleep”. (Incidentally, RVW once suggested that these words might fit the Epilogue of his Sixth Symphony.) As already mentioned earlier in this review, the meetings with Scelsi had Bacri discovering “the life of the sound matter”; and this may be heard throughout the Third String Quartet although the music is entirely Bacri’s own. In this fairly early work, faint echoes of Mahler as well as of the Second Viennese School’s aesthetics may be heard, which does never imply any sort of imitation. It is more a matter of musical mood than of style.
The String Quartet No.4 Op.42, subtitled Omaggio a Beethoven, is a somewhat more developed piece of music with a long and chequered genesis, since it was composed between 1989 and 1990 for the Lindsays, rewritten between 1993 and 1994 and revised in 1995/6. Much of the music of the three movements is based on Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue Op.133 but also harks back on Bartók, as does much else in his output. Bacri’s Fourth String Quartet is roughly structured as a triptych with two slow, elegiac outer movements framing a more animated central Toccata that briefly alludes to Shostakovich’s Fifteenth String Quartet and makes a passing reference to Alban Berg’s Lyrische Suite. However, what might have become a mere collage in the hands of a lesser composer results – remarkably enough – in a magnificent and often gripping piece of music that certainly needs repeated hearings to make its full impact. This remark applies to the piece as a whole for the Fourth String Quartet is probably the most complex work here more on account of its fairly intricate structure than of the music itself.
The String Quartet No.5 Op.57 is structured along more traditional lines, i.e. in four movements with an alert, at times aggressive Scherzo placed third. The fourth movement, however, is a fairly developed Passacaglia ending on a rather sad tone. The first movement Sonata opens in a dreamlike mood that contrasts with a much more energetic second subject. The slow movement Elegia in memory of a deceased friend of the composer is the emotional core of the entire work and contains some of the most moving and beautiful music that Bacri ever penned. The Scherzo bursts forth, almost brutally so, from the ominous silence at the end of the second movement and thus provides some strong contrast. For all its contrasting material, the concluding Passacaglia maintains an elegiac mood till its dismal coda.
The String Quartet No.6 Op.97, dedicated to the Psophos Quartet, is laid-out in three concise movements in a fairly traditional structure, i.e. a slow movement framed by quick outer movements. The first movement, however, opens with a slow introduction leading straight into the animated main part. The beautifully lyrical Adagio molto, that follows without break, develops material from the introduction of the first movement. The work ends with Variazioni alla fuga, a theme and variations capped by an assertive coda.
Some time ago, I most favourably reviewed another disc of Ohana’s string quartets played by the Psophos Quartet, that I found outstanding throughout (Ar Re-Se AR 2004-7). Now, these performances recorded in the presence of the composer also splendidly blend highly accomplished technique and musicality. These vital readings are superbly recorded and the production is excellent with detailed and informative notes by Bernard Fournier. This very fine release is a must for all admirers of this endearing composer’s music, whereas others will find much to admire and enjoy here, for Bacri’s music always retains a compelling expressive strength that is hard to resist.
This is my first acquaintance with the music of the amazingly-prolific Bacri. At 47 his opus numbers are in the nineties, with a wide variety of works including six symphonies, seven string quartets, concertos for one and two pianos, and various choral works. Born in Paris in 1961, his early compositions are serial. The liner notes indicate that Bacri’s influences are “Boulez and Scelsi, Webern and Shostakovich, Carter and Dutilleux.”
The quartets are sequenced here in reverse chronological order, and from the outset of the String Quartet No. 6, one also gets a sense that Bartok is also on Bacri’s sonic horizon. The piece begins with an uneasy adagio that rapidly grows in intensity and volume before launching headlong into a frenetic and emotionally intense Allegro that provides the main theme. The following two movements are played without pause. The central Adagio is a sombre, Shostakovichian exploration of the thematic material originally presented in the first movement’s introduction, before escalating in volume to the final theme-and variations movement. The pacing is intense and the Psophos Quartet launch into these pieces with fearlessness and tenacity
The String Quartet No 5 is more formal in its architecture, with an opening movement that is, structurally, a relatively straightforward sonata. The first minute is lyrical and melancholically beautiful before again escalating, as the sixth did, with surprising and intriguing changes in timbre. The second movement, entitled Elegia, is, according to the liner notes, a remembrance of one of Bacri’s friends, Thierry Mobillon. The letters of Mobillon’s name make up the main thematic material for this movement. There are pauses filled with intensity and musical phrases of great emotional impact here that fans of Shostakovich will certainly appreciate, as well as in the following Scherzo senza trio, which returns to Bacri’s driven pace and, to me, extremely interesting use of texture. The music on this disc often moves at a hurtling pace, but there is no doubt as to direction. There may be moments of almost-stasis here, but never aimlessness.
The fourth quartet is subtitled “Omaggio a Beethoven” and uses Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge as the springboard, both in terms of structural elements and thematic material. The first movement, titled Prologo uses fragments of the Beethoven theme, along with a repeated motif of a minor second that seems to portray breathing. The slow movements of Shostakovich’s Op. 110 are here, especially since the first four notes of the Grosse Fuge theme are here invoked in a way that seems meant to hearken to the DSCH theme. Shostakovich shows up in various guises, as well as an even more brutal quotation of thematic material from Grosse Fuge in the Toccata second movement. The piece is arresting and wonderfully intense, though by my frequent use of that word in this critique, intensity is certainly a hallmark of all of the music on this disc.
Overall, the Psophos play these pieces with the great tenacity and, based on the quality of these performances, I will be looking forward to other releases from them. The liner notes are extremely well-detailed, including structural/thematic analyses and timer indications that I believe many will find very helpful. Regarding the music, these quartets certainly come recommended, especially for those who enjoy Shostakovich’s and Bartok’s quartets. This is challenging and absorbing listening.
David Blomenberg, may 2008 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These quartets all espouse a conventional 20th-century vocabulary - if there can be such a thing - and avoid any trace of avant-gardism entirely. Nonetheless they are imbued with Bacri’s striking individuality, and at no point do they really sound like anyone else- and this despite his use of quotations and allusions to the 20th century’s two great quartet composers, Shostakovich and Bartók, and in the 4th quartet, explicitly to Beethoven. Classical forms anchor the structure of the pieces; sonata form, passacaglia and theme-and- variations all put in appearances here. Serious works, all share a somewhat melancholy aspect; there are in memoriam movements and the third quartet is entitled ‘Sketches for a tomb’, so don’t come looking for lighthearted divertissements here, but the tension is handled with such skill that the impression is always of deep emotional involvement, but never morose. For a composer to embrace time-honoured forms in a tonal vocabulary these days is a bold move, when catch-all eclectic modernism is the order of the day; to produce works of this quality and variety within those constraints is little short of remarkable.
Records International, february 2008
Nicolas Bacri’s Une Prière (A Prayer) for violin and orchestra. This was written 1995–97 and premiered in 1999 at Arles by viola player Gérard Caussé. It exists also in a version for violoncello and – as here – violin. Korcia recorded it in 2002 and it was released on a CD single, reviewed as recently as last autumn by Rob Barnett. I advise readers to look it up, since Rob gives a very fine analysis of the work. One important reference is to Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and the basic atmosphere is similar, but while Gorecki’s composition is more or less cast in one long arch, Bacri’s, although running continuously for circa 22 minutes, is divided in eight clearly discernible contrasting sections. The tragedy of the Jewish people and the sorrow is just as tangible in both compositions, but Bacri has more dramatic outbursts, is more defiant, Gorecki is more resigned. Towards the end of Une Prière, in the first scherzo (tr. 5) the timpani is very aggressive, before, after a long pause, the lower strings introduce the trio (tr. 6) where the soloist weaves a beautiful melody, starting in the lowest register until towards the end of the movement he gradually rises like a Phoenix out of the ashes. Then there is a last outburst of violence in the very short second scherzo (tr 7) before we reach the concluding Andante sognando, which brings a kind of reconciliation. An utterly moving work it is and it became even more significant since I listened to it on the very day when the monument to the victims of the Holocaust was inaugurated in Berlin. I visited Berlin a little over a year ago and saw the monument when it was still under construction. Bacri’s composition should be heard by everyone with the slightest interest in contemporary music – with a message. The performance is first class and Korcia’s Stradivarius of 1719 soars admirably above and around the orchestral texture. Just for the record it should be noted that on February 2 another composition with Jewish motifs by Nicolas Bacri, his Sonata No. 3 for solo violin op 76 (Kol Nidrei) was premiered in Le Havre by Laurent Korcia
Göran Forsling, Len Mullenger MusicWeb
Bacri’s Une Prière is the body of the disc, a powerful threnody "in memory of the Jewish Martyrs of all time." The lines are long-limbed and the soloist spins an appropriately intense course between decorative writing and core oratory. The work is tracked in eight sections so it makes following the structure of this well argued concertante piece that much easier. Defiant and also intense the ending, after the intensely vibrated Scherzo that contains the second mini cadenza, comes as consolation.
The Bacri is obviously a powerful work and one both tonal and broodingly lyric.
Jonathan Woolf, Len Mullenger MusicWeb
Nicolas Bacri continues to make a deserved name for himself with music that veers between the poles of Bergian indulgence and neo-romanticism. Here he announces his presence for the first time on an international label and with a conductor and orchestra of similar celebrity.
The four movement (eight section) Prière in part looks to Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs - a work that affected Bacri as much as it did Peteris Vasks. There is a long largo cantabile. The multo ruvido (tr. 3) is by no means meditative; it bursts into darting aggressive activity and is seasoned with a touch of Jewish temperament. There is a passacaglia notable for fast hunting activity pecking away with all the rawness of a violin-led scherzo by Shostakovich. Long melodic lines are spun by the orchestra in a stimulating counterpoint. Then follows another scherzo. Here the predominant mood is that of a nocturnal dream-flight through a forest. The trio is dignified and extremely serious with the great draughts of air recalling the epic pacing of a Roy Harris largo. In the ricapitolazione we revert to the mood and atmosphere of the first section of the largo cantabile. It is not a carbon copy of Gorecki 3 but there are affinities. Other potently suggestive cross-references include the heartfelt opening of the Berg Violin Concerto, the ecstatic apotheosis of The Lark Ascending and the slow consolatory march that is the end of Pettersson 7. At the last breath the violin rises to a gleaming Tuonela-like glow.
(References to other composers are not to be taken as any slight on M. Bacri's invention which is his own and valid in its own right. They are used here in order to help the listener get his bearings - a form of auditory triangulation).
Rob Barnett, Len Mullenger MusicWeb
Musique de chambre/ENSEMBLE CAPRICCIOSO/Triton-Intégrale
These works all date from after the point at which Bacri turned away from the legacy of the Second Viennese School in the direction of a chromatic tonal language. This is not to suggest that he embraced any kind of ‘new simplicity’; this is the music of a composer thoroughly versed in twentieth-century techniques. The concerto owes an obvious debt to Shostakovich, as does the trio, which even includes a transposed retrograde statement of the DSCH motif as a thematic element. The ‘Classical Symphony’ is a delightful specimen of lively neoclassicism - this is a composer-supervised reduction of the orchestral score, most effectively scored and underlining the precision and rhythmic vitality of the writing. Prokofiev’s similarly titled work provides an obvious comparison. American Letters is a trio of homages to American composers: Carter (whose musical monogram is used as an ostinato); Copland, an in memoriam elegy, and Adams, based again on a theme derived from his name, lively and with an irresistible sense of forward motion but not as minimalism-derived as the dedicatee’s own music. The recent Night Music is a dark-hued elegy, a canonic dialogue between the two instruments.
Records International, avril 2007 (www.recordsinternational.com).
Nicolas Bacri is one of those living composers who offer hope for the future. (...)
Bacri, a Parisian, strikes out in quite different directions from those dictated from IRCAM or by Boulez (though the composer himself claims affinity here) or Messiaen or Reich or Adams. His absorption and language is in the grave melodic tendency rooted in Bach-Finzi territory. (...)
In the case of this disc the melodic strand is strong and finds a natural complement in Florent Héau's clarinet which forms the axle for this CD. Bacri's Op.37b Divertimento is not at all the cassation you might have expected from the title. In fact if he had called it a sonata no-one would have blinked. Its gravity and serious intent is never in doubt. After a bustling first movement in which Bernstein meets Tippett meets Copland comes a sweetly and quietly intoned Canto lontano- the essence of one chapter of the Bacri language. Even the finale, which resumes the cut and thrust of the first movement, cannot resist the lissom modest singing and ends in introspection. The four movement Concerto has the riptide virtuosity of the Stravinsky Ebony Concerto in the first two movements even if the long first movement ends in another of those Bacri invocations to beauty. This is a theme resumed in the Adagio espressivo which has the spirituality of the late Beethoven quartets. I wondered if it should have gone slower than it is taken here. Unusually the last movement is the longest of the four containing a chilly arioso and the accustomed technical flamboyance. Why Mondorf for the Sonata: because it was written in that Luxembourg spa town of that name. Im Volkston is a series of seven miniature tableaux none of which outstays its welcome and all of which are written in a deliberately populist style recalling Bernstein, Prokofiev, Britten (tr.12). Dance, sometimes of a macabre stamp, plays a major part in these miniatures. Ideal relaxing fare in a concert of more emotionally demanding works. Night Music glumly muses with suggestions of inimical fate woven in. The same can be said of the bleak landscapes of the two Rhapsodies. Once again there is a chill in this music and less of the lyrical tendency noted in the outstanding Divertimento and Concerto. One can only hope for recordings of his four string quartets: two early (1980, 1982) and two late (1995 onwards). The Symphony No. 1 and First Violin Concerto are also from the early post-serial phase. Since then there have been a Cello Concerto (1985-87), Symphony No. 2 (1986-90), four more symphonies and ten concertante works. His Sixth Symphony was in the finals of the international competition ‘Masterprize 2003’. It was played by London Symphony Orchestra/Harding last November at the Barbican in London. On the present showing all of these works should be worth hearing. If they attain the heights of imaginative writing achieved in the modestly titled Divertimento we should be in for some revelations.
I should add that there is another disc of Bacri clarinet music in which the Adams Dances; Im Volkston; Divertimento Op. 43 and Concerto da Camera appear alongside substantial works by Guillaume Connesson and Anthony Girard. There the clarinettist is Philippe Cuper. This collection entitled The Paris Connection is on Clarinet Classics CC0043. I shall be reviewing that disc in due course.
(References to other composers are not to be taken as any slight on M. Bacri's invention which is his own and valid in its own right. They are used here in order to help the listener get his bearings - a form of auditory triangulation).
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), May 2004.
The French Connection (pièces pour clarinette par Philippe Cuper de Bacri, Girard et Conesson, disques Clarinet Classics, distr. ILD)
"A hugely enjoyable disc from one of France's most promising composers"
By Roger Nichols - Gramophone, juillet 2003.
You can tell a lot about N. Bacri's Im Volkston from the performing direction - ruvido (rough), entusiastico, con bravura, rustico, delirando and non senza malizia (not without malice). But for all its folky connotations, this is sophisticated music in its techniques and highly virtuosic in its demands. Bacri has a lovely ear for textures as well as gifts for both the widely acrobatic and the lyrical. Usually tonality is lurking somewhere in the background and he very rarely resorts to sheer ugliness - perhaps the odd very high clarinet note qualifies. His is an individual voice, too. The opening of Im Volkston nods in the direction of The Soldier's Tale, and there are Bartokian moments later on, but those apart, what strikes me about the piece is its sense of fun - not that ready a commodity in contemporary music.
The Divertimento is more serious, but certainly not solemn. Ostinati rule the day, often working against each other to produce effects of anxious dislocation. In contrast, the central "Canto lontano" is impressively calm and spacious and the final movement generates considerable power. Here, and in Adams Dances and the Concerto da camera, Bacri displays his fine sense of timing : passages never sound peremptory nor outstay their welcome. Now in his early forties, Bacri must be regarded as one of the whiter hopes of French music. The performances, led by Philippe Cuper's brilliant clarinet playing, are by turns stunning and sensitive.
Musique de chambre / LIONS GATE TRIO / Triton-Intégrale (1994)
This comprehensive survey, encompassing a representative sample of of Bacri’s chamber output, reveals a composer of great expressive intensity and passion, within a framework of meticulously crafted design and mechanism, much like the cantatas and motets previously offered (Oct 06). Having turned away from atonality and serialism in the direction of an æsthetic that allows tonality, though often highly chromatic and not strictly speaking diatonically functional, Bacri’s music became first and foremost a matter of emotional expression, not infrequently with religious undertones, and this is apparent here, even in purely instrumental compositions. Dark-hued, stormy passages abound in the first trio and several of the works for ‘cello - the 3rd Suite is in memoriam Benjamin Britten, a composer admired by Bacri - and in general there is an underlying seriousness to these works, an absence of frivolous display. The relatively early piano works (several of which turn up re-worked in other pieces) show the influence of other composers, as well as an emerging lyricism; largely avoiding virtuosity, they sound like studies for his later style, albeit fully fleshed-out ones, not mere sketches. The splendid Second Trio, aptly entitled ‘Contrasts’ alternates heartfelt lyricism and vehemence, while the Violin Sonata - in memory of Prokofiev - is a dark and obsessive work, epitomizing this aspect of Bacri’s very individual voice.
Records International, juillet 2007 (www.recordsinternational.com).
Bacri: Cello Concerto, Folia, Requiem, Tre Canti e Finale. (Dominique de Williencourt, Laurent Verney, Bertrand Walter, Georges Enesco Philharmonic, YvesPrin) (sound recording reviews) Dominique de Williencourt, vc; Laurent Verney, va; Bertrand Walter, v;
Georges Enesco Philharmonic/Yves Prin--Etcetera 1149 (Qualiton) 72 minutes
Nicolas Bacri (b 1961) studied with Marius Constant and Serge Nigg, with further influences from Giacinto Scelsi, just to mention the composers who convey individual styles to my mind: in other words, the French avant-garde of the 60s leavened by Eastern mysticism. The result is music with an emphasis on sound for its own sake but with a satisfying amount of activity and feeling. The 1985-87 Cello Concerto is particularly exciting, a 22-minute work in four short but pithy movements that keeps up a good head of steam.
The Folia is described as a "symphonic chaconne" for viola and strings, a short, three-movement work lasting 9 minutes. The chaconne is only the first part; Bacri likes to break open his forms, and follows the chaconne with a tiny scherzo and then a development of the theme.
The Three Songs and Finale turns out to be another concerto, this time for violin. I was in the process of castigating the soloist for playing harshly and with no vibrato whatsoever in the first movement, when he suddenly developed a technique and lots of feeling--so apparently the composer asked him to play the opening funeral march this way. In what I am coming to think of as Bacri's usual open-ended style, the Finale itself is in three movements separated by cadenzas. A most interesting piece.
The Requiem is another viola concerto where each movement is titled Musica notturna. Bacri is not quite on the Schnittke level of emotional involvement, at least on first hearing, but this French composer has a most interesting attitude towards making music, and I propose to you that he is worth investigating. The performances are excellent in their effect.
David MOORE, COPYRIGHT 1994, Record Guide Productions
American Record Guide; 3/1/1994; Moore, David W.
SINFONIETTA POUR CORDES & CONCERTO N°2 POUR TROMPETTE
For me the main interest of this disc, which preserves a live concert in Munich last year, centres on the Sinfonietta of fellow member of the British Music Society, Nicolas Bacri.
Nicolas Bacri was born in 1961 in Paris. He studied with Claude Ballif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg and Michel Philippot. Special scholarships and appointments have associated him with Radio France, l'Académie Française in Rome and with Casa Velásquez in Madrid. His worklist runs to more than eighty entries including six symphonies, fifteen concertos, five string quartets, three piano trios and much else. His Sinfonietta for Strings is in three movements of gently acidic harmonic inclination. His music is on this showing less forbidding than Rawsthorne, more akin to mid-period Bartók, mature Bliss and early Tippett. The affecting adagio is touching and superbly well sustained in a way that hints at a dignified stance somewhere between Barber and Schmitt's Janiana symphony. The spell is only transiently disrupted by a cough at 4.30 - one of the perils of a live concert. The first movement is well marked Drammatico. The second is dedicated to Edmund Rubbra and, typically for Rubbra, is marked Meditation. The finale relates to Marin Marais, the successor to Lully at the court of the Sun King but sounds nothing like Lully ... not that it needs to. The sparkling levity of the finale, entering after a more serious introduction, recalled the athletic writing in Lennox Berkeley's Serenade for Strings. Overall the Bacri is a much stronger work than the Berkeley. This Sinfonietta is a substantial piece and the declared diminutive relates to time-scale rather than mood or ambition. The Bacri demands attention if you are already interested in, say, William Schuman's Fifth Symphony, Howells' Concerto for Strings, Bliss's Music for Strings, the various orchestrations of the Shostakovich quartets, the Tippett Concerto and Corelli Fantasia and the Maw Life Studies as well as the Herrmann, Waxman and Schmitt works already mentioned.
The notes are in French and German only but are thorough and full.
A strong recommendation for this disc; not simply as a memento of a fine concert but as a permanent listening privilege for the Bacri.
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), September 2003
See also Bacri Trumpet Concerto No. 2
Bacri's First Trumpet Concerto was written in 1999 and as the composer says was written for trumpeters whereas the Second Concerto was written for Bacri alone. It is, says the composer, a form of conversation with Bach. Bacri puts Aubier through his paces with writing taking the trumpeter into spheres where the metaphorical oxygen is thin. This succinct work, written in tribute to Bach (but not obviously emulating that composer), falls into three movements played without break although the dividing seams are obvious. I can understand why there should be no break. Today's audiences are too easily given to inter-movement applause which would defile the spell of this prayerful and virtuosic meditation. The idiom of the concerto is mildly modernistic; perhaps more so than the Sinfonietta for Strings recently recorded by the l'Orchestre des Régions Européenes. The work ends in stellar regions with an optimism similar to that which also steals victory in the Escaich piece.
Eric Aubier's virtuosity, both in brash, diving descent and rocket-like ascent as well as in poetry of expression and thoughtful reverie really makes this disc. When he hits a top note he does so with invincible and magnificent stability. The orchestra tackles these by no means easy works with an accomplishment that should be the envy of Parisian orchestras let alone the regional competition.
All three works, despite their disparate titles and associated expectations, have a serious but not pompous role for the trumpet. There is poignant oratory and earnest rhetoric pregnant with psychological drama. When Aubier engages afterburners make sure you are sitting down! The Bacri is the most overtly virtuosic piece here though all three test the soloist in diverse ways. Excellent composer notes, background and recording to match.Trumpeters will want to hear this but the disc's audience deserves to be much wider than the trumpet community and its entourage.
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), September 2003
A NOTE FROM NICOLAS BACRI
My first trumpet concerto is dedicated to Sir Michael Tippett. It was written more for the trumpeters than for my pleasure. The reference to Tippett was my "blue sky corner". It was in fact written in 1992 not 1999 as you have said in the review. It was therefore written while Tippett was still alive. I had obtained the permission via Tippett's office to dedicate the work to him. Unfortunately he died few weeks before the CD was issued and thus never heard it.
I regret that you didn't speak about the jazz in my Second Concerto. It is a unusual feature in my music and I consider this was daring to put jazz in a work "im angedenken J.S. Bachs". Also you fail to mention the continuous shifting between tonality and atonality in my works. This is certainly a feature in my Sinfonietta which does in fact make a reference of Marin Marais. The introduction to the (before the sonatina begin) third movement is taken from material by Marais. It was taken, and of course, much "disturbed" harmonically and rhythmically but not melodically, entirely from "L'Opération de la Taille" by Marais. In the Sinfonietta I agree on the influences you mention except the Sinfoniettas by Herrmann and Waxman that I do not know and Schmitt’s Janiana which I do not know either.
I am very flattered when you say that I have chosen the name ‘Sinfonietta’ only for the brevity of the work. But it wouldn't be honest to let you say that without reacting.
Actually I did call that piece ‘Sinfonietta’ because I think the material is lighter than usually in my music.My Sinfonietta For Strings is not a real symphony (otherwise I would have numbered it N°7), but an entertaining piece related to the symphonic form.
I am sincerely grateful to you for comparing it so advantageously to the Serenade by Lennox Berkeley, with which, I believe, it shares more in spirit, than with true symphonies.
Suite n°4 op. 50 pour violoncelle seul par Emmanuelle Bertrand (disques Harmonia Mundi)
Written for Emmanuelle Bertrand, Bacri's Suite n°4 explores the potential of the instrument whilst retaining a potent musicality throughout.
Barry Witherden, CD magazine, juillet 2000
(Bacri's Suite n°4 is) powerfull music from a composer whom cellists everywhere need to investigate.
Graham Simpson, International record review, septembre 2000
N. Bacri dedicated is 4th Suite to E. Bertrand. In five highly contrasting movements, much of the work is quiet and meditative, with short sections of brilliant virtuosity and activity. The Finale Adagio is a movement of considerable beauty, tinged with an underlying sadness.
David Denton, Fanfare, septembre 2000
The young French cellist, Emmanuelle Bertrand has won several international prizes since graduating from the Lyons Conservatory in 1992. She has a strong interest in contemporary music, as is evidenced on this CD which contains five works, the earliest of which was written in 1949.
Four of the composers are well known figures but the name of Nicolas Bacri (b1961) is new to me. Sadly, the liner notes provide little information about him save that the present work is dedicated to Emmanuelle Bertrand and that she gave its first performance, in Japan in 1997. Presumably the fact that Bacri had composed four suites for solo cello by the age of 36 indicates that he is strongly attracted to writing for this instrument. His Suite No 4 is in five movements and, at 19 minutes, is the longest on this disc. In the first movement, 'Preludio', passages of pizzicato alternate with recitative-like bowed sections which give Bertrand the opportunity to show off her full, rich tone. This is followed by a vigorous presto, 'Sonata Gioconda', which calls for energetic bowing from the player. At the centre of the work is an intermezzo, marked Adagio lamentoso. Here the music exploits the cello's full range as does the succeeding andante, 'Sonata Seria'. Both movements are profoundly serious in tone and are eloquently played by Bertrand. After all this some contrast would be welcome but instead Bacri concludes his work with yet another melancholy slow movement, an adagio 'Postludio'. This brings the piece full circle, concluding the Suite, as it began, with quiet pizzicato notes. The work is an eloquent vehicle for Miss Bertrand, if a rather unremittingly serious one.(...) Throughout a programme which is demanding for both performer and listener Bertrand offers superb playing which is captured in excellent sound. I suspect that this CD will only appeal to specialist collectors but to them
it can be recommended confidently.
John Quinn, Classical MusicWeb (UK), June 2001
The pieces that frame her program — Henri Dutilleux’s supple Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher, and Nicolas Bacri’s Suite No. 4, dedicated to her — trade in equal parts sensitivity and sensibility.
Timothy Pfaff, Strings magazine, July 2001, No. 95
Suite n°1 op. 31 pour violoncelle seul par Dominique de Williencourt(disques Triton, distr. Integral)
Born in Paris in 1961, Nicolas Bacri graduated in 1983 from the Conservatoire national in Paris with the first prize for composition after
studying with Claude Ballif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg, and Michel Philippot. He was strongly influenced by Giacinto Scelsi while a resident at
the Accademia di Francia in Rome, and in 1987-91 was head of the chamber music department of Radio France. He dedicated his First Symphony (1983-84) to Elliott Carter and his Cello Concerto (1985-87) to Henri Dutilleux. A welcome change from the derivativeness of Amy and Aperghis, Bacri's First Suite for Violoncello Solo, op. 31, no. 1 (1987; rev. 1994), subtitled Preludio e metamorfosi, exploits the range and technical potential of the cello while providing the performer with plenty of melodic moments as well. The Prelude comprises three large sections: a somewhat etude like opening with a steady rise and fall of eighth notes; a recitative, still melodic in nature but more reserved than the opening; and a piu mosso, in which Bacri calls upon the performer to display technical bravura with difficult rhythms and wide leaps across the instrument. The Metamorphosis, like the Prelude, is also through-composed in three sections. A beginning similar to the Prelude's introductory etude gives way to a largo for two low voices, one a near-drone based on [C.sub.2], the other a meditative line based on a three-note motive centered on D, combining to form an intense aura of stillness. A vivo alla giga brings the suite to an end with dance gestures and technical fireworks that any audience will enjoy hearing and performers will thrill to toss off effortlessly--after hours of hard practice.
David MOORE, COPYRIGHT 1994, Record Guide Productions
American Record Guide; 3/1/1994; Moore, David W.
Nicolas Bacri studied at the Conservatoire Nationale with Ballif, Nigg, Constant and Philippot. He has won numerous prizes for his compositions and has enjoyed commissions from Radio-France, the French Ministry of Culture and many other artistic bodies. He is a composer who has attracted attention world-wide (some of his choral works have been broadcast by the BBC). His clarinet concerto was played by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins at the Royal Festival Hall in May 2000.
Piano trio No. 1 for example sport long melodic lines but this is set in a world of anguish touched with the sort of Jewish themes I associate with the music of Shostakovich and Babi Yar. This is music of a fever; music of fear and pursuit. The booklet notes refer to melodic intensity and I would certainly not disagree. This is music of commanding creativity.
The Cello Sonata, which is as long as the trio, is a hesitant work rising in Bach-like discovery out of fragmentation towards unity, violent doggedness and protest against injustice. The unity of the last five minutes is expressed in the long elegiac lines of the cello against the plangent stride of the piano.
The cello as cantorial rhapsodic singer dominates the Third Suite. Did I detect a Hungarian accent in this music? Surely Britten's own three solo cello suites are also a reference point here although the emotional material is richer in the case of Bacri. The Suite is the most accessible of the works. In it Bacri finds the song within.
In the Preludes (opp 24, 28) we are back to refraction and extrusion: music of dark hints, of disquiet and of rumour. But in Op. 46 the mists clear and a more lyrical approach asserts itself paralleling the solo cello suite.
The Second Trio, Les Contrastes, is well named - the mood contrasts are strong. Unity is to be found in the language of tenderly strained tonality. I thought of Benjamin Frankel's Elégie Juive as well as the Shostakovich piano trio. The music seems to evolve out of a sense of torment and the macabre. But in the fifth of the five movements respite and peace are most movingly captured.
The Violin Sonata (op. 40) is of a similar caste but in it there is evidence that Bacri has found and can convey an almost-Delian cradling contentment among the dazzling sparks and furious gadflies. It is in eleven small panels which, when heard, give the impression of continuity.
The Sonata for solo violin (op. 45) is only 7 or so minutes in length by comparison with the quarter hour scale of the Trio and Sonata for violin and piano. Virtuosity is almost de rigueur in such works in order to sustain interest and certainly there is technical challenge here. However the piece feels unrounded and simply ends unresolved. Only slightly longer and for the same solo instrument are the Trois petites rapsodies - all drawing on expressionism touched with fantasy and Bachian gestures.
The Duo for violin and cello is by far the toughest music on the disc and its profusion of yearning atonality is of a piece with the other Bacri works of the mid and late 1980s. The creepily rocking middle movement is followed by a furiously admonitory finale which fades into dreamy restfulness.
The two discs are housed in an old style double-width box which would have been necessitated anyway by a dumpy booklet in French, English and German. The booklet is extremely well-structured and thorough. There is a list of works, sequenced chronologically from 1980 to 1995.
Mildly adventurous souls will find much to attract and hold the attention here and I for one have high hopes to hear M. Bacri's other works - especially the symphonies and cello concerto.
The disc can be ordered via: email@example.com
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), June 2001
IMPRESSIONS OF SOME BACRI WORKS DESERVING COMMERCIAL RECORDING
Folia (1990) - chaconne symphonique pour orchestre - in memoriam B. Britten. An 8 minute waking from the ghostly atmosphere we encounter in Britten's Grimes Passacaglia to a lament taking something from Berg and more from Purcell. The fury of a Malcolm Arnold symphony is also to be found here in full pursuit. This is a very different work from Arvo Pärt's minimalist Cantus - a Britten memento mori.
The almost half hour Fifth Symphony - Concerto for Orchestra begins in a fury of fanfares and the sort of mud-spraying high speed gallops that characterise the Napoleonic 'parade' section of Prokofiev's War and Peace. The third movement leads us again into the skittering territory of the opening fanfares, Malcolm Arnold and even a touch of Sibelius which returns in the rocking spectral dance that all but closes the fourth movement. The scorching string paeans can surely only have been inspired by the masterful example of William Schuman, one of the last century's great composers. The tumultuous downward sweeping repeated waves in the finale are reminiscent of similarly protesting figures in Allan Pettersson's Ninth Symphony.
The 11 minute Divertimento (2000) for violin, piano and orchestra has learnt something from Schnittke in its headlong furiously boisterous progress. Soaked deep in some cataclysm and its aftermath this is powerful music confounding all expectations raised by the possibly ironic title Divertimento. For me it summons up memories of the remarkable middle movement of Panufnik's Sinfonia Elegiaca. It sounds more like the first movement of a much more ambitious symphonic-concerto trekking through a tragic mindscape. I am sure that there is a larger work here waiting to emerge.
The 12 minute Sixth Symphony has been played by the Orchestre National de France conducted by the BBC's Principal Conductor, Leonard Slatkin. The violently buzzing zest of the Divertimento (for violin, piano and orchestra, op. 66) is presaged in this 1998 work and those slashing fanfares heard in the opening pages of the Fifth Symphony are also here.
References to other composers are not to be taken as any slight on M. Bacri's invention which is his own and valid in its own right. They are used here in order to help the listener get his bearings - a form of auditory triangulation.
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), June 2001
BACRI AND THE SYMPHONY
Bacri is not one of those composers who disclaim the symphony. On the contrary he has six to his name:-
1. (1984) dedicated to Elliott Carter - the culmination of his Viennese School interests.
2. Sinfonia Dolorosa (same title as the Harald Saeverud work) (1986-90) a half hour span 'in memoriam Allan Pettersson'.
3. Sinfonia da Requiem for mezzo, choir and orchestra (1988-94) dedicated 'to the glory of Abraham' and running 72 minutes and selecting texts from Jewish, Christian and Muslim sources in the Spain from the 8th to the 15th century.
There are three further symphonies beyond these. N°4 "Sturm und Drang classical symphony" (1996); No. 5 "Concerto for orchestra" (1996-7); No. 6 (1998).
We can hope that rather like some other fine contemporary symphonies we will one day (soon?) get to hear them on CD.
Rob Barnett, Classical MusicWeb (UK), June 2001
Nicolas Bacri was born in Paris on 23rd November 1961 and over the past
three decades has built up a substantial corpus of big-boned compositions
largely ignored by the contemporary-music establishment. Bacri had the
guts to write in a relatively traditional, tonal language before musical politics
deemed it acceptable to do so, particularly in a country where the centralised sources
of subsidy all seem to adhere to a modernist, Adornian orthodoxy – although the
first works of his maturity were indeed composed in a post-Webernian, constructivist
Bacri’s musical career began with piano lessons at the age of seven, and con -
tinued with the study of harmony, counterpoint, analysis and composition as a teen -
ager with Françoise Gangloff-Levéchin and Christian Manen and, after 1979, Louis
Saguer. Thus armed, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, studying with a number of
distinguished composers: Claude Baillif, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg and Michel
Phi lippot. After graduating in 1983 with a premier prix in composition, he took the
path trodden by countless earlier French composers, to the Académie de France
based in the Villa Medici in Rome. It was during Bacri’s two-year residency in
Rome (1983–85) that he met the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905–88), an
important influence on many foreign visitors to Rome, Bacri included. Back in Paris,
he worked for four years (1987–91) as head of chamber music for Radio France
before turning his back on paid employment to concentrate on his composition,
which has supported him ever since.
The works on this CD all date from the last decade. Most of them display Bacri’s
fondness for the concerto: he has written some thirty concertante works since 1980,
since melody, he says, is the essence of all music, and the concerto is the melodic
genre par excellence. Even as early as 1983, though the style of his music was much
denser than it is now, he inscribed a phrase from Tristan Tzara on one of his scores:
‘I know that I carry melody within me and I am not afraid of it’.
Concerto amoroso (Le printemps), Op. 80 No. 2
The Concerto nostalgico (L’automne) for oboe (or violin), cello (or bassoon) and
string orchestra (composed in 2000–02) and Concerto amoroso (Le printemps) for
oboe, violin and string orchestra (from 2004–05) form the first and second numbers
in Bacri’s work-in-progress, Les quatre saisons, Op. 80, a series of concertos for
oboe in the company of other instruments. No. 3, in non-chronological sequence,
will be the Concerto tenebroso (L’hiver), for oboe, violin and strings, scheduled for
a first performance by François Leleux, Lise Berthaud and the Ensemble Orchestral
de Paris under Pekka Kuusisto on 12th January 2010. Bacri has been composer-inresidence
of a number of prestigious institutions: one of these appointments, to the
Festival des forêts in Compiègne for the years 2010–12, includes a commission for a
Concerto luminoso (L’été) for oboe, violin, viola, cello and strings, for performance
in spring 2011.
The Concerto amoroso – a joint commission from the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and
the Tapiola Sinfonietta in Finland – is scored for oboe, violin and strings and was
given its first performances on two consecutive evenings, in the Alte Oper on 7th
March 2006 and in the Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, on 8th. The performers were the ded -
icatees: François Leleux and his wife, the Georgian-born violinist Lisa Batiashvili,
accompanied by the Munich Chamber Orchestra. It consists of a single span built
from three panels. The opening Mosaïca, marked Allegro giocoso, begins with a
sonata-exposition, built on two themes, which sets off with brisk neo-Classical vig -
our – one can understand the intellectual sympathy that in 2005 allowed Bacri to
complete Honegger’s unfinished opera La mort de Sainte Alméenne (1918). The
lyrical second subject, Dolce amoroso, introduces the development, where the mat -
erial evolves with dizzying speed: a reprise of the opening passage is followed by
sections marked Amabile, Leggiero, Misterioso, Drammatico, while the solo lines
intertwine like tumbling doves. As the sound dies away, ppp morendo, a unison B
flat emerges from the violins, violas and cellos to announce the central Notturno,
which illustrates Bacri’s habit of transforming the material of a piece as it proceeds
– he is unusual among French composers in the fondness for Sibelian thematic meta -
morphosis that is evident in the music on this disc. Six bars of Recitativo, qualified
with Liberamente, adagio, introduce an Aria which, as with the first panel, passes
through a variety of guises: Adagio espressivo, Dolcissimo e raccogliato, Appas -
sionato, until a central cadenza hands the spotlight to the soloists. A brief resump -
tion of the Recitativo, this time launched by a unison F sharp in the lower strings,
brings a Passacaglietta (marked Solenne) over a bass line played arco in the cellos
and pizz. in the basses, which in turn brings an angry, angular passage for strings –
silenced by a descending sweep from the oboe. In the closing panel, Mosaïca II, a
sprightly Allegro moderato e giocoso gives way to a central Fughetta, before the
opening material barges back in, now Molto giocoso, to close the work.
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 63
Bacri’s Flute Concerto was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, is
scored for a modest orchestra of double woodwind, two horns, percussion and
strings, and was first performed on 9th January 2000 by its dedicatee, Philippe Ber -
nold, with the Orchestre Régional de Cannes under the direction of Philippe Bender
in the stylish surroundings of the Hotel Noga Hilton in Cannes.
The first of its three movements opens with a Largo misterioso as the flute solilo -
quises over a carpet of strings; a sudden increase in tempo, with swirling woodwinds
supported by marcato chords in the strings, unlocks the Allegro moderato that seems
set to form the main argument – but as with the Concerto amoroso the music is re -
fracted through a variety of moods: first, an introspective Intimo with the flute in
dialogue with the lower strings and a solo violin, and then a playful Vigoroso which
gallops quasi-fugally into a passage where, though the marking is Misterioso, there’s
no let-up in the tempo. A brief cadenza, marked Sognando (‘Dreaming’), uncorks a
no-nonsense Allegro which sends the movement belting to a Con spirito close. The
rapture of the compact Ecstatico middle movement is that of dreams, not fleshly de -
light, as the first marking, Dolcissimo, would seem to confirm. But this is a troubled
sleep: a Tempo drammatico turns Tenebroso and, as calm is restored, Lugubre for
another short cadenza. The hint of power at the outset of the Nielsenesque Andante
scorrevole third movement is turned aside by a Leggiero section, but the mood dark -
ens with a Ruvido molto (‘Very rough’) fughetta prefacing an emphatic Affanato section
(‘Breathless’ – a term Scriabin favoured). The opening Nielsenesque mat erial
returns, this time Amabile, over bluesy pizzicati in the basses before broadening into
a rather Bartókian Misterioso nightscape – and, as with Bartók, it is birdcalls in the
woodwind which signal the advent of day, and the music slowly evaporates, Adagietto
Concerto nostalgico (L’automne), Op. 80 No. 1
The Concerto nostalgico was first performed – under its original title of Musica con -
certante – in its alternative version for oboe and bassoon in the Salle Gaveau, Paris,
on 24th January 2003; the performers were François Leleux and Jean-François Du -
quesnoy (bassoon), with the Orchestre Colonne conducted by Jean-Marc Burfin; the
version for oboe and cello was first played exactly four months later by Leleux with
the Russian cellist Natalia Gutman (the two dedicatees of the work) and the En -
semble dell’Arte under Leleux’s direction, in a performance in Neuburg Castle, at
Ingolstadt on the Danube, just upriver from Regensburg.
In a single movement like the later Concerto amoroso, the Concerto nostalgico
opens with a dark Elegia, marked Lento solenne, with the cello rhapsodising dis con -
solately over chordal textures in the strings; the oboe sounds an even bleaker tone,
and the strings swirl from Andante inquieto to Vigoroso for the first joint entry of the
soloists and a Doloroso declamation. Bacri’s contrapuntal skill now comes to the
fore in a freewheeling Scherzo alla fuga, constructed from the initial statement of
the scherzo theme, a first fughetta, a contrasting trio, marked Espressivo (over the
same triplet pulse), and a second fughetta which slowly runs out of steam and coasts
into a Romanza, which in turn flows seamlessly into a calm and dignified Epilogue,
inscribed Molto dolce.
Nocturne for cello and string orchestra, Op. 90
Bacri has a penchant for nocturnes: his Op. 15 (1985) offers four for oboe and violin,
and was soon followed by a Capriccio Notturno for clarinet and orchestra, Op. 20
(1986–87); his Trio No. 3, Op. 54 (1996), for violin/flute, cello /viola and piano bears
the title Sonata notturna; Op. 74 (2001) is a Notturno for oboe and strings, and
Op. 79 (2002) offers Trois Nocturnes for flute and string trio. They were followed in
2004 by this brief Nocturne for cello and strings, Op. 90, written to a commission
from Chant du Monde, one of Bacri’s publishers. Like the other works on this disc, it
is dedicated to the musician who gave the first performance – in this instance, the
cellist Clémentine Meyer, who unveiled the Nocturne in the Église du Val de Grâce in
Paris on 4th June 2005. The Nocturne suggests far bigger spaces than its own modest
dimensions suggest (it is a mere 51 bars in length), the music emerging, Adagio
tenebroso, as if the listener has just begun to perceive some process long under way.
The argument tightens in an Intenso molto passage but returns to the broad spans of
the opening to allow the cello to spin a long-breathed soliloquy – which it interrupts
itself, with a threefold stabbing gesture, and the music passes out of sight.
Symphony No. 4, Symphonie classique: ‘Sturm und Drang’, Op. 49
Although Bacri has shown himself to be especially partial to the concerto, he has not
neglected that central feature of the orchestral repertoire, the symphony: his Sixth
Symphony was one of the finalists in the 2003 ‘Masterprize’ competition held in the
Barbican in London (although it was not placed, it was to this writer’s ears by far the
strongest of the six pieces), and his Seventh is a commission from Radio France for
performance in autumn 2011. From 1995 to 1998 Bacri was composer-in-residence
of the Orchestre de Picardie – in effect a large chamber orchestra – based in Amiens,
and only ten years old at the time of Bacri’s appointment; his Fourth Symphony was
a commission from the orchestra and it is, of course, to them and Louis Langrée,
their conductor from 1993 to 1998, that it is dedicated. It was premièred on 18th
June 1996 in Amiens.
The context of that first performance goes a long way to explaining Bacri’s
approach to his new symphony. Langrée had dedicated a concert-cycle to ‘Sturm
und Drang’ compositions of the late-Classical era and wanted a work in the same
aesthetic. Bacri was obviously going to write his own music but, as he explained in a
programme note, ‘I therefore gave myself over to the kind of updating attempt be -
loved of a good number of neo-Classical composers of the inter-war period (but also
of the Grieg of the Holberg Suite), whence the homages to Strauss (the Strauss of
Ariadne auf Naxos), to Stravinsky, Schoenberg (he of Op. 23 and after) and Weill
(the Weill of the Second Symphony, not the Dreigroschenoper). […] You might think
of the Classical Symphony of Prokofiev, and you would be right to find as many
gestures which are personal to me in my own “Classical symphony” as those which
are inseparable from Prokofiev’s style in his’.
Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony does indeed give an ideal frame of reference for
Bacri’s Fourth: the consanguinity strikes the ear immediately in the Allegro fuocoso
which opens the first-movement Omaggio a Richard Strauss – with allusions to
Strauss perhaps audible in the occasional ecstatic turn and phrase in the violins. The
material, as you’ll now expect, is sent tumbling through a variety of developmental
inflections, until a jabbing two-note chordal figure, marked Brutale, seems to try to
halt its progress. A degree of good humour emerges in the closing bars, but the
chord al figure at last succeeds in stamping the music into silence. The title – Omaggio
a Igor Stravinsky – of the succeeding Arietta, marked Larghetto, points the ear to
echoes of Stravinsky’s neo-Classical ballets, but it is as much Prokofiev to whom
Bacri again lifts his hat, not least in the ‘walking’ rhythm in the second violins; he
maintains rhythmic tension here by setting groups of two against groups of three.
The third movement is a gruff Menuetto labelled Omaggio a Arnold Schoenberg,
though its elegant trio calls Ravel more readily to mind. And the closing Finale
(Omag gio a Kurt Weill) cartwheels off in an Allegro spiritoso, ticking strings push -
ing forward a dancing figure first heard in oboe and first violins. The headlong race
rarely relents: it pauses only to allow the briefest of conversation between wood -
winds and horns – until a Coda parodica launches a furious fugue which rushes to
the double-barline, thumbing its nose as it goes.
© Martin Anderson 2009
CV de Nicolas Bacri en chinois
尼古拉斯•巴克利出生于1961年11月，当代法国最负盛名的作曲家之一。其作品早期风 格为高度无调性，代表作是献给艾略特•卡特的《第一交响曲》。他不仅对传统音乐推崇备至，更注重孜孜不断的探索和更新自己的音乐理念，以19世纪音乐为基 础，搭建起20世纪到21世纪音乐的桥梁。
尼古拉斯•巴克利近15年以来发行的CD主要有：第一、三、 四、 五、六弦乐四重奏、 第四交响曲（古典交响乐"狂飙突进"）、为大提琴和乐队而作的协奏曲、为小提琴和乐队而作的第二协奏曲、为小提琴和乐队而作的 Une Prière（RCA BMG古典名盘）、长笛协奏曲、为单簧管和弦乐队而作的室内协奏曲、四季协奏曲、钢琴三重奏、钢琴奏鸣曲、小提琴和钢琴奏鸣曲、大提琴和钢琴奏鸣曲、 中提琴和钢琴奏鸣曲等。
几年前，巴克利与法国著名作家埃里克-伊曼纽尔•史密特合作，创作了独幕歌剧Cosi Fanciulli ，该剧主要角色与莫扎特的歌剧《女人心》相同，于2014 年 6 月在香榭丽舍剧院演出多达12场。
中国国家交响乐团现任团长为著名作曲家关峡，艺术顾问吴祖强、韩中杰，荣誉艺术指导谭盾、首席指挥米歇尔-普拉松、首席常任指挥李心草、荣誉指挥汤沐海、首席客座指挥邵恩、特邀指挥陈燮阳，乐队首席刘云志、乐队副首席赵坤宇。乐 团还与众多世界杰出音乐家保持着长期良好的合作关系。指挥家卡拉扬、奥曼迪、小泽征尔、罗日杰斯特文斯基、迪图瓦、大卫-津曼、普拉松等，演奏家大卫-奥 伊斯特拉赫、梅纽因、斯特恩、穆特、沙汉姆、约夏-贝尔、吕思清、宁峰、马友友、王健、殷承宗、阿格里奇、郎朗、李云迪、王羽佳、林德曼、梅耶等，歌唱家 何塞-卡雷拉斯、朱塞佩-佳克米尼、凯瑟琳-巴特尔等。奥斯卡获奖纪录片《From Mao to Mozart》中则有一部分很好的记录了乐团与艺术大师的良好合作与深情厚谊。
中国国家交响乐团具有良好的演奏技术与艺术修养，涉猎曲目广泛。乐团除了对西方经典作品拥有大量保留曲目外，对当代作曲家新近创作的音乐作品也有着令人信服的诠释能力。乐团还推出过柴科夫斯基、贝多芬、瓦格纳、普契尼以及理查-施特劳斯的音乐会版歌剧。乐 团同时注重中国作品的创作与推广，钢琴协奏曲《黄河》就是由乐团创作并首演。近年来，乐团坚持推出《龙声华韵》系列音乐会，为推广和弘扬杰出的华人作曲家 及优秀作品做出了积极贡献。关峡、叶小纲、谭盾、陈怡等当代作曲家的作品均通过《龙声华韵》中国作品专场音乐会的演出形式，获得中外观众的喜爱与欢迎。
中国国家交响乐团每年保持近100场音乐会的艺术生产，巡演足迹遍及全国。乐团自上世纪起，就率先开展了送音乐到基层的艺术实践，将交响乐艺术送到学校、部队、工厂等。时至今日，这一优良传统由一代代音乐家薪火相传，发扬光大。除 了为广大国内听众奉献精彩演出，乐团还成功出访了欧洲、亚洲、澳洲、北美洲的各主要国家和地区。西方听众惊叹道“在交响乐王国的世袭领地中，毫无疑问的发 现了一位强有力的新成员”，韩国媒体评论“亚洲最杰出的交响乐团”、“十三亿中国人民的骄傲”。“2010世界交响乐团音乐节”音乐会、“2013亚洲管 弦乐团艺术节”音乐会均由中国国家交响乐团奏响。
© 2003 Nicolas Bacri Design par Clémentine Meyer et Wide Link PC