FAURÉ Gabriel, Piano Quartet No.1 in C Minor, Op.15
Fauré’s glorious First Piano Quartet was composed over a four-year period (1876–79) and was given its premiere at the Société Nationale de Musique in February 1880. In 1883 Fauré revised the last movement, and it is in this version that the work was published. It is dedicated to the Belgian violinist Hubert Léonard (1819–1890). The first movement opens with a stirring unison string theme punctuated by syncopated piano chords, contrasted with a more lyrical second idea. The Scherzo begins with pizzicato chords over which the piano traces a melody of sparkling delicacy. Roles are reversed in the Trio section – the piano supplying the accompaniment to a theme of ravishing beauty and refinement presented by the strings. The slow movement was said by Fauré himself to be a lament for the sudden ending of his engagement to Marianne Viardot (one of Pauline Viardot’s daughters) – expressed through music of eloquent, passionate restraint. The finale is both exciting (with the dotted rhythms of the opening theme) and radiant (the arching second theme), crowned by a conclusion of unquenchable ardour.
Nigel Simeone ©