Gabriel Fauréís nocturnes cover a long period,
from the 1880s to the 1920s. From the impressionistic salon pieces of
the early years, they end in a very modern tone, as post-war France
tries to rise from the ashes of World War I. One can hear so many influences
from the past (Schubert and Beethoven, for example) as well as hints
of the future (Debussy and Satie).
Sally Pinkas gives a colourful reading of these varied
works. From the haunting first nocturne, with its opening melody reminiscent
of some of Schubertís finest lieder, to the dense later works, this
disc not only presents a brilliant body of work, but shows a pianist
able to adapt to the vast range of styles without missing a beat.
Some of the early nocturnes are much more melodic,
like songs without words, where Fauré develops long, sinuous
melodies that are accompanied in an almost pointillist manner. The third
nocturne, in A flat major, is like this. With its passages where the
main melodic line shifts from the right hand to the left and back again,
it is a journey through a variety of styles - its waves of arpeggios
are counterbalanced by delicate, sensuous melodies.
As the disc progresses, so does the music. Fauré
moves ahead in complexity and depth, and the middle nocturnes are very
different. Between the 5th and 6th nocturne, ten years passed. Fauréís
melodies are vaster and more sweeping, his tone less positive, and the
melodies are constructed across the keyboard rather than with just one
hand. His music becomes more chromatic as well, demanding more of the
The later works show how much Fauré progressed
as a composer. The density and mood of the 11th nocturne is striking;
its vague sadness is intense, and its mood is haunting. The final work,
written in 1921, builds in intensity, but presents a dense, difficult
material. Fauré is far from the early nocturnes, with their almost
song-like melody. This work is the culmination of some forty years of
composition and has the sound of a testament.
Sally Pinkasís performance of these works is breathtaking.
She flows perfectly with the more melodic early works, and dives head-first
into the intensity of the later works. The second disc, Beyond the
Notes, gives her a chance to explain her feelings and approach to
this work, and especially how she focuses on the large, sweeping melodies.
I heartily recommend that you listen to these comments before listening
to the music; Pinkasís explanations are like a key that opens the door
to this demanding repertoire.
This fine disc, well-recorded as are all Musica Onmia
discs, is a journey through a little-known body of work. With excellent
performances, this music will grow on you, as you discover a facet of
this great composer with which you may not be familiar.