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Gabriel (Urbain) Fauré

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Nationality: French
Born: May 12, 1845, Pamiers, Ariège
Died: November 4, 1924, Paris (age 79)
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Piano Quartet No. 1 in c minor, Op. 15

(for violin, viola, cello and piano)
9:23
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:32
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:29
III. Adagio
8:02
IV. Allegro molto
Duration: 31 minutes (approximately) - hide movement times
Composed: between 1876-1879 (age 31-34)
Published: 1884 (age 38-39)
Revised: 1883 (age 37-38)
Dedication: Hubert Léonard
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10 recordings, 34 videos
33:53
Colombet, et. al.
9:55
Beaux Art Trio
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:42
Beaux Art Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:25
Beaux Art Trio
III. Adagio
8:12
Beaux Art Trio
IV. Allegro molto
8:11
Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Rudolf Barshai, Mstislav Rostropovich
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:21
Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Rudolf Barshai, Mstislav Rostropovich
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:46
Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Rudolf Barshai, Mstislav Rostropovich
III. Adagio
7:33
Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Rudolf Barshai, Mstislav Rostropovich
IV. Allegro molto
9:28
Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:47
Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
8:01
Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
III. Adagio
8:15
Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
IV. Allegro molto
9:37
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:23
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:08
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
III. Adagio
8:02
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
IV. Allegro molto
8:47
Paganini Quartet, Rubinstein
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:25
Paganini Quartet, Rubinstein
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
6:44
Paganini Quartet, Rubinstein
III. Adagio
7:30
Paganini Quartet, Rubinstein
IV. Allegro molto
29:47
Quatuor Bernède, Samson François
10:03
Quatuor Ysaÿe, Rogé
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:40
Quatuor Ysaÿe, Rogé
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
8:12
Quatuor Ysaÿe, Rogé
III. Adagio
7:48
Quatuor Ysaÿe, Rogé
IV. Allegro molto
9:11
Schubert Ensemble
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:33
Schubert Ensemble
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:25
Schubert Ensemble
III. Adagio
8:12
Schubert Ensemble
IV. Allegro molto
10:05
Trio Pasquier, André Cluytens
I. Allegro molto moderato
5:36
Trio Pasquier, André Cluytens
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
7:40
Trio Pasquier, André Cluytens
III. Adagio
8:38
Trio Pasquier, André Cluytens
IV. Allegro molto

From Kai Christiansen:

Gabriel Fauré, 1845-1924

Piano Quartet No. 1 in c minor, Op. 15, 1883

Gabriel FauréFaurés chamber music is dominated by ensembles with piano. In fact, only one work excludes it: the string quartet of 1924 written when he was 79, Fauré's final chamber composition. In addition to the numerous works for piano and soloist including violin and cello sonatas and a treasure trove of precious miniatures mirroring his gift for song, Fauré wrote two piano quartets, two piano quintets and a piano trio, all of them superb works of the highest order. The Piano Quartet No. 1 in c minor, Op. 15 begins the series of larger ensemble works. Written between 1876-79 and revised with a new finale in 1883, it falls neatly between the music of César Franck and Ravel suggesting appropriate and revealing comparisons. Fauré had a very distinct musical personality, somewhat aloof from the intoxication of Wagner as well as the modern leanings of the Impressionists. Yet his music is unmistakably French with a strong kinship to both the suave Romanticism of Franck and the cool sensuality of Debussy. As especially demonstrated in this piano quartet, a remarkable lineage seems to flow across this span of time and compatriot composers that evolved a most distinctive school of French art at the end of the 19th century. It is particularly compelling to realize that Fauré's first piano quartet predates Debussy and Ravel's first mature works by ten and twenty years respectively. Along with the traditional clarity, poetry and restraint of the French tradition preceding it, Fauré's music sounds refreshingly and presciently modern.

The quartet's first movement amply illustrates many of these qualities. The sonata's two primary themes establish wonderful contrasts. The first is heavy-handed and robust with immediate pointers to Franck and Debussy's first quartet. Through a supple series of transformations, the theme enjoys chameleon-like changes of character and mood as both Franck and Debussy did within and across movements with a typical French penchant for cyclic form and subtle permutations. Fauré's second theme is lyrical and winsome, flowing in ribbons of step-wise sequences that became a signature texture throughout much of his oeuvre. Here is both the essence of Fauré's counterpoint and his subtle technique of development through nuanced modulation of a near minimalism of material. Delicate, elusive, ever flowing and shimmering, this kind of ingenious musical continuity flows straight into music of Ravel, Fauré's most famous student.

Fauré's Scherzo is fascinating. It moves throughout with the dual personality of a march and a waltz with a steady perpetual motion gently animating the entire construction. It suggests phrases such as "watch-like precision" often given to key French composers like Saint-Saëns and Ravel. The steady "groove" is based on a combination of an obstinate bass pattern (the pizzicato strings or the piano's left hand) and a scurrying melodic figure (in the piano's right hand or the bowed strings). Over time, the strings introduce a much more languid melody that stretches with a certain wryness like gauzy fabric over a loom. This is one part of the casual, playful humor of Fauré's Scherzo. The other is the trio: it is surprisingly similar to the Scherzo musically, but it begins on the dominant and seems to invert aspects of the bass, melody and texture for an "inside-out" and "upside-down" effect. Running through the fabric are wisps and threads of musical lines that fly off in the treble range and a merry dotted rhythm that skips and prances through the precision clockwork, all in a very suave, scherzando musical entertainment.

The adagio is majestic and profound, serene with a dark streak of poignancy. It opens with an elegiac theme, a stately pavane measured, reflective and somewhat grave. It gathers momentum, reaching with a more emphatic yearning that relaxes again into pastels and a dreamy nostalgia like a French café song whose languorous melancholy savors its own sorrow fondly. A dour chord wakens the reverie into a disorienting drift back through the spinning of time in wide ranging piano arpeggios; a recollection of the poised elegy sinks deeply into the lower strings under the terrible weight of reality. The piano continues to dream, lost, floating skyward like a brightly colored kite against the gray clouds, forever untethered from the gravity of the dark earth below.

Fauré concludes his first chamber work for large ensemble with a blustery, restless rhythmic tour de force that begins with a storm in a minor key and travels, moto perpetuo, a wide arc of kaleidoscopic changes to end in a surge of bright triumph, a sparkling finish awash in color and grand cadences. The magnificent swell and sweep of the finale carries in its wake a whole history of styles, textures and moods. Here one finds the Romantic heft of Franck waltzing with the pointillism of Ravel, the big orchestral rainbows from Iberian tributes of earlier Frenchman amidst the intimate, ripe lyricism characteristic of all great chamber music. And for the distinctive sound of the piano quartet itself, one finds the surging, precisely unified rhythms in gigantic strides that are idiomatic to the great modern pianoforte as well as the glittering melodic lines high and impossibly delicate in the right hand, those that Mozart first set against the velvety, long lines of a tremulous and harmonically complete string trio, the definitive colorful textures of the earliest great piano quartets.

© Kai Christiansen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




From Silvertrust:

Gabriel Fauré Fauré's Piano Quartet in c minor was perhaps his best known chamber music work and was considered in the front rank of such works, being regularly performed in the days when piano quartets were frequently heard in concert. It dates from 1879 not long after Fauré had visited Wagner and listened to his music. Impressed though he was, unlike César Franck or d’Indy, he refused to fall under Wagner’s spell and set off on his own path. No better example can be found than this work. The opening movement, Allegro molto moderato, is bold and sweeping over a wide range, powerfully rhythmic and very original, it is clearly a challenge to Franck and the other French Wagnerians. He is deliberately seeking to expand the language of romanticism without going in the same direction as Wagner. Fauré, unlike Brahms or Schumann, never resorted to having the strings treated as a choir against the piano. He recognized and accepted the basic difference in sound and character between the piano and string instruments and never tried to make the piano sing long sustained melodies. He showed that it was not necessary. Using opposing arpeggios, chords and runs against the singing of a single instrument or a group of them, and giving the piano an equal role in a rich contrapuntal texture created a dazzling variety of tonal effects.

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was born in the village of Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées. At an early age he was sent to study at the famous École Niedermeyer, a Parisian school which prepared church organists and choir directors. He studied with several prominent French musicians, including Charles Lefèvre and Camille Saint-Saëns. For most of his life, Fauré worked as a church organist and teacher. Among his students were Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger. He was a founder of the the Société Nationale de Musique and eventually became director of the Paris Conservatory. In retrospect, he has come to be regarded as a transitional and unique figure in French music. His lifetime and works spanned the period of the mid Romantic right up to the modern post-WWI developments of Stravinsky.

He and his music were well-known during his lifetime and several of his works are still popular today such as his Requiem, the opera Pénélope, the music for Pelléas et Mélisande and the Dolly Suite. He wrote a considerable amount of chamber music; including two piano quartets, two piano quintets, two cello sonatas, two violin sonatas, a string quartet, and a piano trio.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gabriel Fauré and related chamber music composers
1850 1900 // last line 1979 César Franck (1822-1890) Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Charles Koechlin (1867-1950) Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Paul Ladmirault (1877-1944) George Enescu (1881-1955) Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
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