And listening through the Barcarolles from Op 26 to Op is to be made aware of a remarkable journey. This takes us from Gounod-inspired lyricism and the intricacies of Barcarolle No 5 to darker regions of the mind and finally to music which resolves all former complexity in a strange and unearthly transparency, the valediction of the final Barcarolle. Indeed, as one Barcarolle follows another you become aware of a disturbing assumption that if you play the notes the rest will somehow look after itself. Poetry quickly becomes prose, and insufficiently interesting prose at that.
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Barcarolles Complete. Barcarolle No. Ballade in F sharp major, Op. His professional training, designed to allow him a career as a choirrnaster, was at the Ecole Niedermeyer in Paris , where, by good fortune, he met Saint-Saens, who taught the piano at the school. This was the beginning of a relationship that lasted until the death of Saint-Saens in After similar less important appointments in Paris , in he became assistant organist at St Sulpice, later moving to the Madeleine as deputy to Saint-Saens and subsequently as choirmaster, when Theodore Dubois succeeded Saint-Saens in At the same time he wrote a large number of songs, while remaining, as always, intensely critical of his own work, particularly with regard to compositions on a larger scale.
His association with the Conservatoire, where his pupils over the years included Ravel, Charles Koechlin, Georges Enescu and Nadia Boulanger, led, in , to his appointment as director, in the aftermath of the scandal that had denied the Prix de Rome to Ravel.
He remained in this position until , his time for composition initially limited by administrative responsibilities, although he was later able to devote himself more fully to this, adding yet again to the repertoire of French song, with chamber music and works for piano. His musical language bridged a gap between the romanticism of the nineteenth century and the world of music that had appeared with the new century, developing and evolving, but retaining its own fundamental characteristics.
His contribution to French music as a composer must lie chiefly in his songs, his piano music and his chamber music, although works like the poignant Requiem have an unassailable place in liturgical and choral repertoire. The French word Barcarolle is adapted from the Italian barcarole, the songs sung by the gondoliers of Venice , a popular object for collection by visitors to the place as part of the fashionable eighteenth century Grand Tour. The form appears in piano music notably in Chopin's single Barcarolle and in three of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words.
In his primary vocation as a composer, he wrote music first at his desk, although all his music for the piano is essentially in a pianistic idiom that suited, at least, his own very personal piano technique, something that is not necessarily the case with the music of those who choose to compose at the keyboard. The delicately conceived piece, with its gently swaying rhythm, was dedicated to the pianist Caroline de Serres, Mme Montigny-Remaury.
The following year brought Barcarolle No. This last was dedicated to the wife of Ernest Chausson. The Barcarolle, with its characteristic shifts of harmony, was dedicated to the wife of Vincent d'Indy.
This work was followed, in or , by the masterly Barcarolle No. By , the date of the Barcarolle No. Sixty in May, in June he had been appointed director of the Conservatoire after the affaire Ravel and the resignation of Theodore Dubois.
The darker-hued new Barcarolle was written in August and dedicated to the wife of the pianist Isidore Philipp. The first public performance was given in February the following year at the Salle Erard by Arnold Reitlinger. The Barcarolle is imbued with a mysterious melancholy.
It was dedicated to Mme Leon Blum. The same year saw the composition, during summer weeks at Lugano, of Barcarolle No. From a sombre opening the work develops, in textures of some complexity, to a final G major coda.
The piece has reminiscences of an earlier style of writing, but developed to meet the techniques of the composer's maturity. The last of the series, the Barcarolle No. Dedicated to Mme Soon-Gumaelius, the Barcarolle moves now into waters of greater limpidity, as the choice of key suggests, although mystery lurks in the depths below.
It was probably in that he played the work to Liszt, a composer whose piano music strongly influenced him at the time. The work was written in and dedicated to Camille Saint-Saens. It was first performed in its fuller version, with the composer as soloist, at a concert of the societe Nationale de Musique in April , with the conductor Edouard Colonne. The work falls into three sections and continues to exercise a charm and fascination, felt, among others, by Marcel Proust, whose central character, Swann, is carried away by a snatch of such music, a phrase that leads him to unknown horizons.
Barcarolle No.1, Op.26 (Fauré, Gabriel)
These sets were composed during several decades in his long career, and display the change in his style from uncomplicated youthful charm to a final enigmatic, but sometimes fiery introspection, by way of a turbulent period in his middle years. The composer disliked showy display, and the predominant characteristic of his piano music is a classical restraint and understatement. It's perhaps the most difficult genre of all. His works for the piano are marked by a classical French lucidity;  he was unimpressed by pianistic display, commenting of keyboard virtuosi, "the greater they are, the worse they play me. The lyricism and complexity of his style in the s are evident in the Nocturnes nos. Finally, the stripped-down style of the final period informs the last nocturnes nos.