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Dans les services da santé: le piano mobilisé
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Le vent dans les ruines (1915) [4:01]
Jean ROGER-DUCASSE (1873-1954)
Variations in a choral (1915) [18:41]
Jacques de la PRESLE (1888-1969)
Petite berceuse (1918) [2:19]
Jean HURÉ (1877-1930)
Piano Sonata No.2 (1916) [20:30]
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Doute (1919) [4:12]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Prélude (1913) [1:44]
Déodat de SÉVERAC (1872-1924)
Les Naïades et le faune indiscret (1919) [10:09]
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)
Piano Sonatine No.3, Op,59 (1915-16) [6:32]
Amaury Breyne (piano)
rec. October 2016, Auditorium of the Conservatory, Rayonnement Départemental, Tourcoing
Les Musiciens et la Grande Guerre - Volume 23
HORTUS 723 [68:17]

This series has unearthed a considerable number of valuable pieces during its lengthy progress through the repetoire. The First World War is the focus, and creativity engendered by the war is the means by which Hortus has expanded its catalogue exponentially. In the case of this all-piano disc some of the composers were drafted for service whilst others were not. But almost everything was composed within the period of the war and in the case of Roussel’s Doute and de Séverac’s Les Naïades et le faune indiscret they were written in the year following the Armistice.

There are two big works and satellite smaller ones. Roger-Ducasse’s Variations sur un choral is a noble piece, reflecting an immersion in the music of Fauré and also Schumann. Though much is convincing some of the slower and more reflective passages can sound somewhat winsome. Partially the blame can be laid at the composer’s door but perhaps also at the executant here, Amaury Breyne, whose approach here, and largely throughout the disc, is toward the static. Timings are hardly always relevant but Martin Jones on Nimbus is over three minutes quicker and arguably binds the variations that much more tautly.

The other big work is Jean Huré’s Second Sonata, heard in its first appearance on disc. It much post-dates his thoroughly diffuse but exceptionally appealing Violin Sonata. The piano sonata by contrast shows some awareness of Scriabin and a lot more of Debussy. Cast in a single movement though clearly sectional it sports a thoughtfully pensive slow panel, dappled, colour-conscious, and immediately attractive.

Of the other works, once again, he takes his time in the Ibert Le vent dans les ruines so that the ostinati are more overtly romantic than one usually finds. I’m afraid I find his de Séverac ruinously indulged. The mythic colouration and Ravelian ethos disintegrate at this stolid tempo; try Jean Doyen or Jordi Masó to note that taking 10 minutes over a piece Doyen takes in six-and-a-half is taking things to an extreme. I felt a little of the same with Koechlin’a Third Sonatine which should be more incisive. Its neo-classical vibrancy is better brought out by Michael Korstick on Hänssler; again, Breyne is very slow. But it’s good that he has given another first recording here, this time of Jacques de la Presle’s Petite berceuse, composed in 1918; a light, songful piece.

This is a rather uneven disc. The music is adventurously selected and the range of composers attractive but the performances can be over-cautious and constrained.

Jonathan Woolf


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