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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Gabriel FAURE (1845-1924)
Nocturnes

CD 1
Complete Nocturnes

1. Nocturne no. 1, op. 33/i in E flat minor
2. Nocturne no. 2, op. 33/ii in B major
3. Nocturne no. 3, op. 33/iii in A flat major
4. Nocturne no. 4, op. 36 in E flat major
5. Nocturne no. 5, op. 37 in B flat major
6. Nocturne no. 6, op. 63 in D flat major
7. Nocturne no. 7, op. 74 in C sharp minor
8. Nocturne no. 8, op. 84 in D flat major
9. Nocturne no. 9, op. 97 in B minor
10. Nocturne no. 10, op. 99 in E minor
11. Nocturne no. 11, op. 104/i in F sharp minor
12. Nocturne no. 12, op. 107 in E minor
13. Nocturne no. 13, op. 119 in B minor
CD 2

Beyond the Notes
with commentary by Sally Pinkas
Sally Pinkas, Piano
Rec: June 2001, Jordan Hall, Boston Massachusetts.
MUSICA OMNIA MO0109 [72.45 + 18.08]

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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 listener.

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.

Kirk McElhearn


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