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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Mirages, Op. 113 (1919) [14:05]
Cinq mélodies de Venise, Op. 58 (1891) [14:09]
La Chanson d’Ève, Op. 95 (1906-10) [24:12]
Dans la forêt de Septembre, Op. 85 No 1 (1902) [4:04]
Accompagnement, Op. 85, No 3 (1902) [4:27]
Le Don silencieux, Op. 92 (1906) [2:36]
Spleen, Op. 51, No 3 (1888) [2:37]
La Rose, Op. 51, No 4 (1890) [3:02]
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano)
Adrian Farmer (piano)
rec. Concert Hall, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, 2014. DDD
NIMBUS NI 5915 [69:12]

Fauré’s output of music for solo piano was substantial: and many of those works are well known. The ones most often recorded are the 13 Barcarolles, 13 Nocturnes, 9 Preludes and 6 Impromptus. The works here from Fauré’s later period are little heard or not at all: this isn’t to say that they have no merit but they just haven’t reached the concert hall to make them popular. On a first hearing one may find that there is a similarity of style but this does not make the hearing less enjoyable.

Fauré was a church organist but he had a soft spot for the tonal qualities of the piano and believed it to be the most difficult musical instrument to handle well. A former pupil of Saint-Saens, we can see in the mélodies here that Fauré uses the piano to provide harmony and let the voice carry the melody, rarely using decoration between vocal lines. It is said that his early pieces were influenced by Chopin, but the earliest song here, Spleen, to my ears carries nothing that echoes that composer. His use of the voice in many of these songs is languid and dreamlike with a legato flow that suits Charlotte de Rothschild’s timbre.

A post-graduate of the Royal College of Music, internationally renowned lyric soprano, Charlotte de Rothschild provides elegant tone and sonorous beauty that well suits the long notes of Fauré’s legato vocal lines. Dans la forêt de Septembre sings of Autumn time in an old forest, portraying panoramic horizons of space among dancing leaves — a mental picture of delight. Her rounded vowels and youthful style provides an engaging charm that pervades this disc.

A graduate from Birmingham University with later training as an accompanist at the Royal Northern College of Music, Adrian Farmer’s sensitive accompaniment is tender, superbly modulated and not over-intrusive. The energetic pace and delicate handling of Eau Vivante from Cinq mélodies de Venise is particularly moving. The piano is nicely placed in a good acoustic that does not detract from the focus on the voice.

Raymond J Walker

Previous review: John Quinn



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