Ibert’s mother was an accomplished pianist who nurtured her son’s interest in music from a very young age. Although Ibert’s father – an export trader – was less encouraging of his son’s musical pursuits, this is eventually where Ibert chose to direct his energy, enrolling in the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 21.
In his final year of study, 1919, Ibert applied for and won the Prix de Rome – fast-tracking his success as a musician, composer, and later arts administrator.
Ibert’s musical philosophy was all-embracing; he believed that “All systems are valid provided that one derives music from them.” As a result his repertory was highly eclectic, drawing from multiple traditions and schools of thought. Yet despite his versatility as a composer, it is the light-hearted and elegant virtuosity of works such as the Trois pièces brèves for which the composer is now best known.
The lively banter of the opening movement makes way for an intimate tête-à-tête between the flute and clarinet in the second. Once the ensemble joins the discussion, the second movement draws to a close, and the third movement’s solemn introduction begins. The sense of gravity is soon interrupted by an animated statement by the clarinet that, as the first theme, is complemented by a light-hearted – almost cheeky – dance-like second.