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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A Quartet by Fauré and a Drink at Dusk

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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.

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Looking at the World with a Child’s Eyes

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A new day. © Charles Thibo

Gabriel Fauré’s String Quartet in E Minor (op. 121) will forever be associated in my mind with the morning after I had heard Debussy’s quartet. Debussy’s piece had had a deep and lasting impact upon me the day before. I rose in the morning to drive to work, and while I drove by that field in the picture I immersed myself in the first movement of Fauré’s piece. The field, the sun, the sky, the music…

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Fauré Builts a Bridge into Musical Modernity

Post-romantic harmony. © Charles Thibo

Can you imagine two rivers flowing one inside  the other? For clarity’s sake let’s say one is a dark blue, slow and heavy, thick stream while the other is a light blue, fluid and blubbering spring flowing in and above the other one. Can you picture these two flows in your head? Good. This is what Gabriel Fauré’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, op. 117 would look like if I were to paint it. I guess I am a better writer than painter, but this picture immediately formed in my head when I listened to this sonata for the first time.

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