FAURÉ Gabriel, Piano Quintet No.1

Molto moderato
Allegretto moderato


No other work by Fauré gave his as much trouble as the First Piano Quintet. The earliest sketches date from 1887 (in the same sketch-book as the ‘Pie Jesu’ from the Requiem), the bulk of the composition was done between 1890 and 1894, and the work was completed and revised in 1903–5. When it was published in 1907, it was not in Paris, but in New York, issued by G. Schirmer. The first performance was given on 23 March 1906 when Fauré himself and a quartet led by Eugène Ysaÿe (the work’s dedicatee) played it in Brussels at the home of Octave Maus. A week later (30 March) they gave it at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.


One early enthusiast for the work was the young Aaron Copland. In the early 1920s he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger – a Fauré pupil – and it was through her that Copland came to love this music. In 1924, he published an article in Musical Quarterly entitled ‘Gabriel Fauré: a neglected master’, likening Fauré to Brahms, with ‘a genius as great, a style as individual and a technique as perfect’. Copland described the first movement of the quintet: ‘The initial theme is an excellent example of that continuity of line that [is] peculiar to Faure’s late manner. A short subsidiary theme for strings alone, which later plays so important a part in the development, brings us to the second idea – an ardent, yearning phrase which must convince the most recalcitrant ear of Faure’s great powers of melody-making. Note with what technical mastery the recapitulation is made the inevitable climax of the development and is so varied as to take away all feeling of repetition.’ The extended Adagio – melancholy and introspective – is followed by a last movement that Copland described as ‘a sort of combination Scherzo–Finale’.


Nigel Simeone


Support from individuals is vital to our work.
Your gifts help us engage the very best in UK and international talent in our concerts, and to run our annual Sheffield Chamber Music Festival.