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Déodat De SÉVERAC (1872-1921)
Piano Music - Volume 2
Baigneuses au soleil (Souvenir de Banyuls-sur-mer) (1908) [6.34]
Les Naïades et le faune indiscret (Danse Nocturne) (1908-9) [7.18]
En Vacances (Group 1) (1919) [19.35]; (Group 2) (1922) [12.18]
Sous les lauriers roses - Soir de carnaval sur la côte catalane (1919) [14.32]
Jordi Masó (piano)
rec. Auditorium, Jafre, Spain, 29-30 January 2011
NAXOS 8.572428 [60.42]

Experience Classicsonline



My word, the amazing Jordi Masó has been busy in the last decade. No wonder it’s been ten years exactly between volumes 1 and 2 of Séverac’s evocative piano music. In between times he has recorded composers like Roberto Gerhard, Mompou, Montsalvatge and Padre Donostia. Note the Southern French, Northern Spanish in other words Catalonian emphasis. Masó was born in Barcelona so he has excellent credentials.
 
I first came across Déodat de Séverac as a song composer many years ago but more recently when picking up volume 1 (Naxos 8.555855) of his piano music in an airport on my way back from a wonderful holiday in Provence. It seemed such perfect music to act as a souvenir of a perfect holiday containing as it did works such as the Suite In Languedoc which I love and admire.
 
This new disc opens with Baigneuses au Soleil. It’s best to think of Renoir’s gorgeous painting of naked female ‘baigneuses’ when listening to this happy, dancing piece although the excellent booklet notes by the prolific Keith Anderson fail to draw a similar analogy. It is dedicated to Alfred Cortot. Although Séverac was a pupil of D’Indy and Magnard this piece and others to come, remind one that he had stronger, impressionist leanings towards the styles of Debussy and probably Ravel.
 
The next track Les naïades et la faune indiscret (The naïads and the prying faune) is really a follow-up to the first piece. Being subtitled Danse Nocturne it does indeed inhabit a world of dancing but fading sunlight suggestive of Monet or Sisley. It’s utterly charming and only found by accident by the composer’s daughter over thirty years after her father’s all too early death.
 
Sous les lauriers roses is to my mind the least successful piece on the disc. It is a Fantasy, not especially interesting or original which in English translates as ‘Under the Oleanders’. Its dedication to Chabrier, Albeniz and the lesser-known Charles Bordes - all Séverac teachers - puts the piece in a stylistic no-man’s land, which oscillates between the three. A carnival mood is set up and is unremitting for much of its quarter of an hour. There is a passage specifically related to each of his teachers. The one to Bordes is in a bouncy 5/8. There is also a Sardana. I recall seeing one of these danced one balmy evening in Perpignan.
 
The main works on the CD are the two groups of En Vacances. The first consists of seven pieces. It seems reasonable to think of Séverac as using Schumann’s Kinderszenen as a point of inspiration especially as the composer describes the pieces as being of ‘moyenne difficulté’. The first miniature is an Invocation to Schumann. There then follow seven little and charming sketches subtitled In the Chateau and the Park which are delightfully domestic including a lovely Grandma’s Caresses, another rather jumpy piece entitled The two little girls from next door, a slightly serious Ronde dans le Parc and a happy Valse Romantique which is not that easy to play. A few turns of its turns of phrase reminded me of Ravel.
 
Just consisting of three pieces the En Vacances (2me Recueil) begins with a waltz in the style of Chopin. It has some typical turns of phrase (La Fontaine de Chopin) and a touch of Mediterranean warmth. This most pianistic of miniatures is, oddly, dedicated to an organist Raoul-Giral de Solancier. Next is La Vasque aux Colombes, which was completed after Séverac’s death by that great pianist Blanche Selva. The third piece is a rather didactic The Two Musketeers but which is, the composer tells us, a ‘Canon without danger of being too academic’; that’s how one might best translate the French title. When published in 1922 this whole work must surely have seemed a little anachronistic.
 
I must add that although the pieces here are charming and pleasing this second volume of Séverac’s piano music is nowhere near as interesting or evocative as the pieces on the older disc. This is not decry the playing of Jordi Masó who brings out the nuances of each individual piece most pertinently or the recording which does not intervene between the performer and the listener.
 
The CD cover image by ‘eyewave’ is even odder than usual - a silhouetted beach figure carrying a spade, perhaps ‘en vacances’?

Gary Higginson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


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