Sévérac

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Sévérac
LABELS: Ogam
WORKS: Baigneuses au soleil; Cerdaña; Sous les lauriers roses; Les naïades et le faune indiscret
PERFORMER: Billy Eidi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 488019-2

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In an uncharacteristic outburst of generosity, Debussy wrote of Déodat de Séverac that ‘the music he writes smells good and one can breathe to one’s heart’s content’. It was both an acknowledgement of a composer who had emulated Debussy’s voyage away from sonata form, and a magnanimous gesture Debussy could afford towards someone whose piano works were clearly not a patch on his own. The influence of Debussy certainly haunts the works on this disc, but even more palpable is that of Albéniz, especially in the set entitled Cerdaña, which memorialises the Cerdagne region on the borders of France and Spain. Albéniz’s sense of pace and drama was not to be so readily found in Séverac, as the forced festive atmosphere in the opening number of Cerdaña – all capricious trills and spread chords – reveals. The emotional crux of the set is ‘The Mule-Drivers before the Christ of Llivia’, a dolorous essay not quite as moving as it ought to be. In fact nothing Séverac attempts altogether comes off, even the shorter pieces failing to generate material to justify their length. Less easy to fault is Billy Eidi, whose dexterity and exuberance get the most out of these pieces. If only there was more to get.

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Christopher Wood