For everyone who knew, admired and loved him, beginning with the numerous musicians who had the great joy of playing under his direction, Désiré Emile Inghelbrecht - or "Inghel" as he was fondly called by intimates - renowned conductor and founder of the National Orchestra, was also an exceptional musician whose unforgettable style set the standard for the greatest French masterpieces. Yet, too often, this overshadows the fact that he was, perhaps more than anything else, a great creative genius.
Indeed, the study of his works leads one to wonder if it is not that well-spring of music, that creative power within, that holds the secret of his immense success. The list of his works would fill a small book. No doubt generations to come will pick and choose among them (a selection evolving as times and taste change) just as was the case with musicians in the past. But, one may be assured even now of the permanence of certain ones, which all must unanimously agree are masterpieces, masterpieces in every sense of the word, hence, in that which, so rare in reality for any possible applications, it is a brilliant illustration of all that which, in the art, belongs to the craft - the most solid and the most sublime.
When one enjoys the privilege, as we did, of taking part in the recording of two major works (the ones on this disc), one sees, through the effects and emotions that he extracts from them, the depth of Inghel's understanding of all the resources of the instrumental and vocal score. One sees how he uses them with masterful economy and fullness to fit his great plan. In his works, where he demanded much of each and every musician, nothing is left to chance, nothing is indicated without its having an absolute musical efficacy, which is revealed only in the playing. Yet, with Inghel, one is far from that tyranny peculiar to certain composers whose unspoken heart's desire would appear to be the elimination of that bothersome intermediary, the interpreter. He is wonderfully clear in his scores, a precious help to the interpreter, yet his directions are worthless if one is not an artist of stature, if one has no great personality to apply to his art.
The two works on this record illustrate this perfectly. We were extremely fortunate in having unusually strong guarantees of authenticity. Madame Baudry-Godard worked for years with D.E. Inghelbrecht and the majority of the orchestra had already played the works under the composer's own direction. It was particularly moving to see, during the recording sessions, that some musicians recalled how Inghel, disregarding the printed score, played such and such a difficult passage, since, after playing it over and over, he had found a way to improve on it. It is truly a shame - and this is a fate Inghelbrecht shares with so many great musicians - that he had so few occasions to set the interpretations of his works during the last years of his life, i.e. at a time when recording techniques had progressed to the point that true music lovers felt the music came back to life. Just imagine what he would have added to the interpretations of his works - the inspiration, the genius - for he put so much of himself into his great scores. Nothing is more foreign to Inghel's music than the sometimes accepted idea that musical creation is pure creation only and not profound expression. Doubtless the music expresses only itself, according to Stravinsky; but, that's just the point: music is certainly more than just construction, assembly and combination.
The composer himself related the circumstances in which he wrote the "Requiem during the first winter of war, 1940-41, a particularly cold and desolate time.
"I wanted, " he said, " to write something for a dear old friend from my youth, Abbé Halot, head of the Ecole Gerson, a passionate lover of music. He promised me a text and when I received it, I noticed that it was nothing less than the Mass for the Dead. Now, fearing that the spell of Fauré's masterpiece would creep into my spirit, I mulled it over for a whole week before making up my mind. I decided I would risk it, believing that my deep knowledge of Fauré's work would at least prevent me from any resemblances. To confine my own conception, I strove to make my requiem strictly liturgical. I asked Felix Raugel, whose authority in the matter is indisputable, for some suggestions, and, even as I worked, I was imbued by the sadness of the times we were living and I dreamed of all those around me who would disappear. And Abbé Halot did die a few years later."