Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) inhabits a "sound world" uniquely his own: moody, harmonically complex, sometimes neurotically so, melodically elusive. Less readily accessible than either of his French contemporaries, Debussy and Ravel, Faure's chamber music, nonetheless, is infinitely rewarding and certainly should be more widely recorded and available.
This remarkably rich offering of Faure's only two piano quartets (in C Minor, Op. 15 and G Minor, Op. 45) will, no doubt, go a long way in re-energizing interest in this coupling of the composer's most "popular" ensemble works.
This marks the first release with Robin Ticciati leading the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, and it makes the requisite splash. There's a world premiere: even if you're not on board with the trend of enlarging the repertory through arrangements of works that are perfectly good in their original form, you will likely be seduced by mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená's ravishing reading of Debussy's voice-and-piano Ariettes oubliées, inventively arranged by Brett Dean. There's a little-known work: the opening one, Fauré's Prelude to Pénélope (a sparsely performed opera, with a slightly less sparsely performed prelude) is a lush and beautifully controlled arc. Controlled and detailed are two words that come to mind for Ticciati's interpretation of La mer, the warhorse work on the program; it may seem a bit deliberate, but there are many hues in his performance. The two Debussy works are balanced by two of Fauré's: the fourth work is the suite from Fauré's incidental music to Pélleas et Mélisande (in Charles Koechlin's version), also deliberate and lush. Linn recorded the performance in Berlin's Jesus Christus Kirche, which allows the full spectrum of orchestral colors to come through. Worth the money for Kozená fans for her turn alone, and a fine French program for all.
Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.
The young cellist Andreas Brantelid, often accompanied and perhaps guided by the much older Bengt Forsberg, has gained notice for sheer virtuoso chops. But in this recital covering all of Gabriel Fauré's music for cello and piano, it's his way with a sheer melody that impresses the most: the two Berceuses (cradle song), the flawless unfolding of the two sonata slow movements from simple opening material (sample that of the elegiac Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117), the remarkable, 54-second Morceau de Lecture (originally for two cellos, and the only arranged work here). Brantelid certainly delivers a smooth performance of the popular Papillon, Op. 77, and all the music here – some of it well known, but most of it not so much – is a pleasure. Fauré was one of the few composers who had a real knack for writing for the cello and did so without complaining about it. The best is saved for last: the Andante for cello and harmonium is the original version of the opening Romance, Op. 69, and it's really an entirely different work, spooky and inward, with the harmonium contributing a unique wash of sound. The harmonium was an extremely common instrument in the second half of the 19th century, and it's good to hear a work played on the instrument for which it was intended. BIS contributes fine Swedish radio sound to this recommended cello recital.
Tout le monde devrait connaitre certaines oeuvres classiques. Les requiems de Mozart ou de de Saint Sens en font parti, à mes yeux.