Henri TOMASI (1901-1971)
Six mélodies populaires corses (1930) [11:47]
Chant Corses (1932) [9:30]
Cantu di Malincunia (from Cantu di Cirnu) (1933) [2:53]
Deux mélodies sur des poèmes de Paul Fort (1932) [5:35]
Clairières dans le ciel (from the poems of Francis Jammes) (1932) [5:32]
Cyrnos pour deux pianos (1929) [19:28]
Johanne Cassar (soprano); Laurent Wagschal (piano); Sodi Braide (piano)
rec. 2011, Eglise Evangélique Saint Marcel. Paris. DDD
INDESENS INDE 037 [54:49]

Tomasi was born and brought up in Marseille by a family who were from Corsica - the Mediterranean island known as Cyrnos by the ancient Greeks. The notes helpfully point out that his works of this era led towards his great operas Don Juan de Mañara (1944) and Sampiero Corso (1955). Later still came his eminent works of the 1960s: the Lorca tribute Guitar Concerto (1966), the Camus-inspired Retour à Tipasa (1966) and the Symphonie du Tiers Monde (1968), itself drawing inspiration from the writings of Aimé Césaire. All the works on the present disc date from 1929 to 1932.
There are fifteen songs here and one major piece for two pianos. Of the songs eleven are specific to Corsica and four are settings of two French poets: Fort and Jammes. The lovely Corsican songs are soaked in Mediterranean sunshine and shadow. Their style parallels that of the Canteloube Auvergnat songs. They are folksy yet sophisticated. Very broadly speaking they inhabit the same territory as Donald Swann’s Songs of Greece. The Jammes and Fort songs are a modern shade of the dreamy songs of Chausson and Duparc.
Cyrnos is a fantasy for two pianos also in an orchestral version. Its tarantella intimations course tumultuously though the opening pages. A playfully light hand suggests the waves as well as hinting at Debussy's La Mer at 3:20. The dialogue of Mediterranean light and Iberian accents is interrupted by a passage of grandeur at 5:02. A lulling contentment asserts itself before the music rises to a satisfyingly thrilling peak at 13:03. There’s then a falling back into tarantella territory; as Ravel celebrated La Valse so this piece does a similar service for the tarantella. The virtuosic exuberance and Rachmaninovian rhetoric comes again at 15:30. There are more than a few moments when Cyrnos seems to be a counterpart to Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnole - a sort of Rapsodie Corse. I wonder if there is an orchestral version – I rather hope so. This is gloriously brilliant writing given a recording and performance to match. Cyrnos is, by the way, dedicated to Tomasi’s wife, Odette Camp (1909-1979). Her atmospheric Parisian Scene drawing adorns the last page of the booklet.
The words are in the booklet in both Corsican (where appropriate), French and English.
The valuable notes are by Jean-Marie Jacono of the University of Provence.
Henri Tomasi’s music is a discovery waiting on your delight. This disc opens the way alongside the same company’s Tomasi trumpet anthology. Now, how about a Chandos orchestral collection?
Rob Barnett

Henri TOMASI (1901-1971)
Mélodies corses – Cyrnos
Six mélodies populaires corses (1930)
1- Ciuciarella – 1’59
2- Vocero – 2’30
3- Chanson de la pipe – 1’25
4- Ninina 3’15
5- Lamento 1’35
6- Zilimbrina 1’02
Chants corses (1932)
7- Lamentu d’u trenu - 2’19
8- Sérénade complainte - 3’34
9- Nanna - 2’10
10- U Meru pastore -1’31
11 - Cantu di Malincunia (ext. des Cantu di Cirnu, 1933) – 2’53
Deux mélodies, sur des poèmes de Paul Fort (1932)
12- Par les dunes – 3’40
13- Cloche d’aube – 1’55
Clairières dans le ciel, sur des poèmes de Francis Jammes (1932)
14- Tristesses – 2’55
15- Une goutte de pluie - 2’37
16- Cyrnos (concerto pour 2 pianos) (*) (1929) – 19’28
Johanne Cassar (soprano)
Laurent Wagschal (piano)
Sodi Braide, piano (*)
rec. DDD

A discovery waiting on your delight.