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Déodat de SEVERAC (1872 Ė 1921)
Le Chant de la terre (1900)
En Languedoc (1903/4)
Las Naïades et le faune indiscret (1908)
Baigneuses au soleil (1908)
Izumi Tateno (piano)
Recorded: Snellman Hall, Kokkola, Finland, June 2001
WARNER APEX 2564 60625-2 [72:21]

Some years ago, actually during the LP era, Aldo Ciccolini recorded the complete piano works of Déodat de Séverac. This double-LP set (EMI) has been recently re-issued in CD format and, to the best of my knowledge, is still available.

Izumi Tateno, who has recorded much Finnish music, has also recorded some of Séveracís mature piano works for Finlandia. These are now available at bargain price in Warnerís ongoing APEX series. Incidentally, I do not know whether Tateno recorded the complete piano works of de Séverac. If so, I hope that these recordings may soon be re-issued; if not so, I hope that he might be persuaded to record them.

Deliberately or not, the pieces are presented here in chronological order, starting with the large-scale cycle Le Chant de la terre completed in 1900. Séveracís piano output includes several piano cycles such as En Languedoc and Cerdana, which are rather suites of impressionistic pieces mostly inspired by his home region, Languedoc, in Southern France where he lived for most of his life. It should come as no surprise that the music is generally redolent of Debussy, although some of the early works may still be slightly indebted to Franck, but never slavishly so. From quite early on, Déodat de Séverac found his own sound world which he kept refining throughout his composing career. His stylistic progress may be fully appreciated when comparing the relatively early Le Chant de la terre with, say, En Languedoc written a mere three years later but displaying some considerable technical advance. En Languedoc is clearly from the same pen but the music has a much greater freedom and tonal refinement. Les Naïades et le faune indiscret and Baigneuses au soleil (one of his most popular works) are shorter, colourful pieces of great charm, the former being somewhat redolent of Ravelís Jeux díeau.

The four pieces recorded here are superb examples of de Séveracís piano music: colourful, harmonically subtle, clear and breathing some healthy joie de vivre reflected in the use of folk-inflected dance rhythms as well as exulting in sunshine or meditating at sunset. His music sings and shines as well.

I have known and loved these pieces for many long years through Ciccoliniís set found in a second-hand shop; but I have much enjoyed Tatenoís readings that certainly do not pale when compared to Ciccoliniís. If you respond to this sort of music, written in the early 20th century, you will have no difficulty whatsoever in coming to terms with de Séveracís marvellous but still much underrated music. If you have the Ciccolini set (either the original LP set or the CD re-issue), you may safely stick to it; but the present release, especially at bargain price, is a most commendable introduction. Either way, though, Déodat de Séveracís music is simply too good to be ignored.

Hubert Culot


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