Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Suite en Duo (1927) 14.10
Four Pieces (1926-9) 18.50
Poemes Intimes for piano solo (1902-11) 28.15
 Marie-Annick Nicolas (violin)/Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano)
rec 1993
SKARBO SK4941 [61.15]
Amazon US

I have already reviewed the Timpani Cras series and am pleased to supplement those reviews with these of two excellent discs from SKARBO. I refer you to those reviews for biographical details.

Cras wrote the suite initially for harp and flute but also arranged it in the form played here. It adopts a style, clean and clear, singable and free. There is no dissonance. Dance and folksong are recalled rather like the Prelude, Chanson et Marine of Guy-Ropartz. The music has an unpretentious simplicity and a sense of falling into place.

The Four Pieces are also for violin and piano. The first movement - an air with variations - is school-ish but in the succeeding breathing and rocking Habanera any trace of the academy disappears. Evocation looks out on exotic landscapes with the violin half catching recollections of Vaughan Williams' Lark and for the rest taking oriental flute filigree as its inspiration. The Eclogue is grave and steady, folksy but dignified.

The five Intimate Poems are for solo piano and are much earlier than the other two pieces. En Islande is an example of what I will call Beethovenian impressionism. The Preludio is a gracious and modest bird-call almost Handelian at times. With the Stream depicts a rapidly flowing crystalline rivulet. Meditation is all you might expect from the title alternating an hypnotic ostinato with a rippling figure part Handel and part Medtner. John Foulds piano music (available on Altarus) from the 1900s might well provide you with a good comparison.

Another gifted Breton to add to the list.

Rob Barnett

If in difficulty you can order SKARBO releases from


JEAN CRAS (1879-1932)
Paysages (1917) 12.55
Danze (1917) 34.26
Two Impromptus (1925) 10.12
Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano)
rec 22 Dec 1997, d'Aulnay-sous-Bois.
SKARBO SK1986 [57.39]
Amazon US

Ferey (who also wrote the notes: French and English) continues his fine work for Cras. He is alive to nuance, inclined to brilliance, when it is called for, and open to grandeur as in the second of the two masterly Paysages. In the first he brings out the wave-pattern and swell of the sea in which, as a naval officer, Cras made his living.

The Four Dances: Morbida is as marked: fluid and languid and extremely personal in a way never fully achieved in the Intimate Poems. It too ascends to the heights of grandeur at 4.23. Scherzosa is marked pleasant and lively and it is all of this: scintillating, cascading and in the secure hands of a virtuoso. Tenera (tender and loving) is presented with faltering but confident sensitivity. The Impromptus are pleasantly relaxed without being anything more.

Recording quality and notes excellent.

Rob Barnett

A definite 'must' for collectors of French (specifically Breton) piano music. Less of an imperative for the general collector

If in difficulty you can order SKARBO releases from


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