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Two New Recordings Feature the Music of Pierre Jalbert

May. 01, 2019

Two New Recordings Feature the Music of Pierre Jalbert

Two new recordings featuring the music of Pierre Jalbert will be released this month. The Jupiter Quartet and pianist Bernadette Harvey release "Alchemy" on the Marquis Records label. The disc includes Pierre Jalbert's Piano Quintet and Secret Alchemy. Jalbert describes his Piano Quintet:

"My Piano Quintet consists of four contrasting movements. The first movement, entitled Mannheim Rocket, is a modern take on the 18th-century musical technique in which a rising figure speeds up and grows louder. Marked 'Furioso', the movement is gradually filled with rising scalar figures which build in volume and finally 'launch' into space with ethereal string harmonics. At this point, the music becomes almost static, though the inner rhythm continues.

The second movement, entitled Kyrie, is marked 'Still, chant-like'. The principal idea, stated between first violin and viola, is a chromatically transformed chant-like motive. It also features a long, lyrical cello line, made up exclusively of natural harmonics, emphasizing the non-tempered ('out of tune') 7th and 11th partials.

The third movement is a scherzo in which the strings and piano sometimes alternate and imitate each other, reacting to each other's gestures, and at other times, combine and synchronize to produce a more blended sound. A short Trio-like section appears before the return of the scherzo music.

The last movement, Pulse, is made up of perpetually moving 8th notes, sometimes harmonically static, but always pushing forward. The work is interrupted twice with short, freer sections, but always returns to its pulse-oriented nature."

(Piano Quintet/Pierre Jalbert/Jasper String Quartet)

Regarding Secret Alchemy, Pierre Jalbert says:

"With any new composition, there is a sense of discovery and mystery during the creative process. Though this piece is not programmatic, imagining the air of secrecy and mysticism surrounding a medieval alchemist at work provided a starting point for the piece. The first movement begins with this sense of mystery. String harmonics are used to create the rhythmic backdrop for melodic lines played by the cello and later, the viola. The second movement is a relentless scherzo characterized by pizzicato strings, turbulent piano writing, and quickly alternating rhythmic patterns. The third movement is influenced by medieval music with its use of open 5ths, chant-like lines played non-vibrato by the strings, and reverberant piano harmonies, simulating the sound and reverberation in a large cathedral. The fourth movement concludes the work with an energetic music characterized by strings playing fast measured tremolo figures (rapid movement of the bow back and forth on the string). These alternate with the piano’s massive chords and occasional rapid melodic figures, along with muted tones emanating from inside the piano." 

(Secret Alchemy/Pierre Jalbert/Bernadette Harvey, piano, Benny Kim, violin,
Helena Baillie, viola, Steve Doane, cello)

To pre-order "Alchemy", click here.  

In addition, the Morganstern Trio will release "Transformations" on the Azica label. The recording includes the world premiere recording of Pierre Jalbert's Piano Trio No. 2. This work, written for the Morgenstern Trio for the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, is in two movements of contrasting character. A couple of ideas inspired each movement: the first was the thought of a desert landscape at night, desolate and calm; the second came from an incident driving home in Houston.  Jalbert recalls:

"I was driving through downtown late at night on an elevated highway, which runs through the center of town. There were just enough cars on the road to feel like it was busy, but there were no traffic jams so everyone was going at a high rate of speed, some cars weaving in and out of lanes. Coming around a large curve, I looked over at the downtown skyline as I passed very near the buildings. Since this was an elevated highway, I was looking at the 4th or 5th floors of most buildings, and as I glanced at the buildings, they seemed to be going by in slow motion. This provided the impetus for the second movement. These were simply starting points and the music itself eventually developed on its own terms."

To order "Transformations", click here.

To learn more about Pierre Jalbert, visit

Pierre Jalbert
Piano Quintet (2017)
for string quartet and piano

Secret Alchemy (2012)
for string quartet

Piano Trio No. 2 (2014)
for violin, cello, and piano