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.

Continue reading!

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.

Continue reading!

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.

Continue reading!

A Quartet by Fauré and a Drink at Dusk

faure quatuor piano
Glowing mystery. © Charles Thibo

Mystery. Energy. Melancholy. Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C Minor (op. 15) has all three elements. The first and the final movements offer the energy, the second the mystery, the third the melancholy. A delightful work from a true genius. And apparently a challenge for the French composer. Fauré wrote the first bars in 1876, only three years later he finished the piece. He completely rewrote the finale after he had heard the work for the first time at the premiere in 1880. In 1883 the quartet took its final shape.

Continue reading!