Mystery and a Deep Romantic Longing

“In the rain”, by Franz Marc

A veil of mystery lies over this piano quartet. A deep Romantic longing is embedded in it. It stirs intensive emotions, delightfully. The origin of the piano quartet is equally shrouded in a mystery. Edgar Fauré dedicated his Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor (op. 55) to the German piano virtuoso Hans von Bülow, but the manuscript has no date, He never mentions it in any of his letters according to the Fauré-biographer Jean-Michel Nectoux. It was first performed on January 22, 1887.

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An Ephemeral Flow of Beautiful Notes

A summer evening. © Charles Thibo

I had warned you. Here’s more from Gabriel Fauré and another laudation for the art song, as anachronistic as it may sound to some. In 1919, Fauré wrote a cycle of four songs for voice and piano, based on four of the poems from the collection of the same name by  a baroness of the name of Renée de Brimont: Mirages, op. 113. The composition saw its premiere at the Société Nationale de Musique on 27 December 1919, sung by the Soprano Madeleine Grey. Fauré was the pianist for the premiere. By this time he was almost deaf, and it was the last time he played at an event of the Société Nationale de Musique.

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A Partly Veiled, Sensual Smile Set to Music

The Flames of Paradise. © Charles Thibo

Gabriel Fauré’s most extreme work – that’s how Jean-Michel Nectoux describes the composer’s song cycle “Chanson d’Eve” (Eve’s Song). On 20 Avril 1910, to inaugurate the Société Musicale Indépendante (SMI) in Paris, Fauré and the singer Jeanne Raunay presented this work for the first time. Fauré set to music ten poems written by the Belgian poet Charles van Lerberghe. The mostly free-verse poems show Eve as a primal poet symbolizing universal values through a set of allegorical images in which Eve appears. Fauré and Van Lerberghe were sensual men longing for the absolute, writes Nectoux. Both explored the themes of transience and beauty through vague, indistinct images of the natural world. Fauré pushes his research in the field of melodies very far in this work and grants himself a lot of liberty to “escape from the tyranny of the words”, as Nectoux remarks.

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The Sureness and Lucidity of a Madman

Relax. © Charles Thibo

Tension. At one moment deeply relaxed, anxious at another. Enjoying the day, apprehensive about tomorrow. In 1914 Maurice Ravel wrote his Piano Trio in A Minor (M. 67). He dedicated it to his counterpoint teacher André Gédalge, the trio was first performed in Paris in January 1915. He had been mulling the idea of a trio for years, but he was spurred by the tense political situation in the summer of 1914. War was in the air and Ravel wanted to enlist in the army.

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