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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Walking with Monet, Suffering with Fauré

Meet you at Giverny. © Charles Thibo

I am no good at botany, so I won’t be able to tell you the name of the flower in the picture. It grows in Giverny, in the former garden of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. That’s where I saw it right after a short rain shower, in all its splendour, its mysterious aura. Now listen to Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quintet No. 1 in D Minor, op. 89. Perhaps you will fall under its spell like I did with Fauré’s work. Like I did with Monet’s garden.

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