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Piano Quartet No.2 in G minor, Op. 45

Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)

Tamar Beraia

Tamar Beraia

Composer
Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)
Composition Year
1886
Work Movements
1. Allegro molto moderato
2. Scherzo. Allegro molto
3. Adagio non troppo
4. Allegro molto
Artists
Tamar Beraia [piano], Adrian Brendel [cello], Lilli Maijala [viola], Tamsin Waley-Cohen [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Nicki ffrench Davis

The slow movement of my second Quartet is one of the few places where I realise that, without really meaning to, I recalled a peal of bells we used to hear of an evening, drifting over the Montgauzy from a village called Cadirac whenever the wind blew from the West. Their sound gives rise to a vague reverie which, like all vague reveries, is not translatable into words.

It is poignant that in his second quartet Fauré unintentionally included this echo of his happy childhood, completing it as he did in the year following the death of his father. Although he had lived far from his father they had corresponded regularly and the loss was a great blow to him.

Fauré had been married by then for some three years to Marie Fremiet. She was not his first choice; indeed legend has it that her name had been drawn from a hat in the years following his heartbreak at a broken engagement. His passion for the woman who rejected him was not matched by that for his wife, and it seems she had little for him either. It was a time, perhaps, for the young composer to come to terms with the reality of a life falling short of his hopes and his joy at the birth of his first son in 1883 was tempered by periods of depression.

The opening theme is a stormy, drawn out melody of sustained notes in the unison strings set against pounding tremolandos on the piano. The development moves between wistfulness and acquiescence gradually becoming more restless as it leads us back to the stormy opening of the recapitulation culminating eventually in an exhausted coda.

The brief but gripping second movement, although marked scherzo, is a nightmarish perpetuum mobile, its rhythms oddly suggestive of the endlessly revolving wheels of trains on which Fauré was, reluctantly, spending so much time. This turbulent journey propels us towards the still beauty of the third movement,

The opening bell figure of the third movement accompanies a moving lament in the viola, which is passed to the violin before eventually drawing all three strings together to create a sublimely expressive second subject. In the development a version of the bell pattern is taken up by the strings and it is the piano that explores the opening melody, gradually suffusing it with sunlight. When it is taken up again, altered, by the violin it is filled with a new optimism only to be returned to its original spare form for the recapitulation. A long coda strives for peaceful rest, finding it in the closing bars.

This peace is immediately undermined by the dark magnificence of the Allegro molto that brings us back to the troubled mood of the Scherzo. Here it is the rich, burnished colours of cello and viola in unison which drives the melody forward to an increasingly tempestuous development. When the exposition material returns there is little sense of promise for a positive resolution until its steady build towards a carefree coda lands us in the unexpected brightness of the major key. 

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Piano Quartet No.2 in G minor, Op. 45

Composer: Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)
Performance date: Friday 8th July 2016
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)
Work Title Piano Quartet No.2 in G minor, Op. 45
Composition Year 1886
Work Movements 1. Allegro molto moderato
2. Scherzo. Allegro molto
3. Adagio non troppo
4. Allegro molto
Artist(s) Tamar Beraia [piano], Adrian Brendel [cello], Lilli Maijala [viola], Tamsin Waley-Cohen [violin]
Performance Date Friday 8th July 2016
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:33:01
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Piano Quartet/Piano Quintet
Instrumentation vn, va, vc, pf
Programme Note Writer © Nicki ffrench Davis

The slow movement of my second Quartet is one of the few places where I realise that, without really meaning to, I recalled a peal of bells we used to hear of an evening, drifting over the Montgauzy from a village called Cadirac whenever the wind blew from the West. Their sound gives rise to a vague reverie which, like all vague reveries, is not translatable into words.

It is poignant that in his second quartet Fauré unintentionally included this echo of his happy childhood, completing it as he did in the year following the death of his father. Although he had lived far from his father they had corresponded regularly and the loss was a great blow to him.

Fauré had been married by then for some three years to Marie Fremiet. She was not his first choice; indeed legend has it that her name had been drawn from a hat in the years following his heartbreak at a broken engagement. His passion for the woman who rejected him was not matched by that for his wife, and it seems she had little for him either. It was a time, perhaps, for the young composer to come to terms with the reality of a life falling short of his hopes and his joy at the birth of his first son in 1883 was tempered by periods of depression.

The opening theme is a stormy, drawn out melody of sustained notes in the unison strings set against pounding tremolandos on the piano. The development moves between wistfulness and acquiescence gradually becoming more restless as it leads us back to the stormy opening of the recapitulation culminating eventually in an exhausted coda.

The brief but gripping second movement, although marked scherzo, is a nightmarish perpetuum mobile, its rhythms oddly suggestive of the endlessly revolving wheels of trains on which Fauré was, reluctantly, spending so much time. This turbulent journey propels us towards the still beauty of the third movement,

The opening bell figure of the third movement accompanies a moving lament in the viola, which is passed to the violin before eventually drawing all three strings together to create a sublimely expressive second subject. In the development a version of the bell pattern is taken up by the strings and it is the piano that explores the opening melody, gradually suffusing it with sunlight. When it is taken up again, altered, by the violin it is filled with a new optimism only to be returned to its original spare form for the recapitulation. A long coda strives for peaceful rest, finding it in the closing bars.

This peace is immediately undermined by the dark magnificence of the Allegro molto that brings us back to the troubled mood of the Scherzo. Here it is the rich, burnished colours of cello and viola in unison which drives the melody forward to an increasingly tempestuous development. When the exposition material returns there is little sense of promise for a positive resolution until its steady build towards a carefree coda lands us in the unexpected brightness of the major key.