on November 10, 2010
Even in his early works, represented here by the first piano quartet, Fauré exhibited a refined style of music that has great appeal once one gets used to it; and in the late works he seemed to have mastered the art of the understatement, as one who would rather use subtle words than bold expressions or pastels than flashy colors. To me, the test of any performance of Fauré's chamber music is how well it conveys this defining quality. In these recordings, Quatuor Ysaye and Pascal Rogé, masters of French repertoire, give a perceptive performance that I find fully satisfying. They are at their best during passages where the strings establish Fauré's distinctive harmonies, with the piano blending in, when - to use a visual analogy - the piano suddenly emerges brightly like sunshine breaking through the light morning mist: Rogé, always competent, is simply brilliant during such moments; the effect is exhilarating.
The four pieces included in this set were composed over a period exceeding forty years. Of these, the first quartet, with its energetic rhythms and delightful melodies, a Scherzo that happily prances along, and a melancholic Adagio of rare sensitivity, is probably the most popular. The second quartet, composed during the middle period, is no less attractive; though one need listen to it several times to fully appreciate it. The superb Allegro molto finale combines intensity and lyricism, perhaps the sort of music that earned Fauré comparison with Brahms. The two piano quintets belong to the late period and display Fauré at his best. The first of these comprises three movements, not the usual four; the Adagio, arguably as beautiful and subtle a composition as Fauré has written, may well be used as an example of what his mature music was about. Although some would insist that he composed emotionally detached music, there is something deeply personal about Fauré's slow movements. The touching Andante of the second piano quintet suggests to me the memories that make up every unspoken farewell, wistfully re-living things gone by. The musical language may be French but the sentiment is universal. Yet the aging, now-deaf Fauré, looking back at a long career, could be dashing as well; the Scherzo of the same quintet has the piano playing some nimble jazz-like rhythms - not too surprising when we remember that Beethoven's great last piano sonata includes a passage that's been likened to boogie-woogie.
Great music. Fine ensemble. Recommended.
on June 27, 2013
This 2-disc set contains both of Faure's piano quintets and piano quartets. In this chamber music, Faure creates a very individual sound world that is not quite like any other composer. The performances by Pascal Roge and the Ysaye Quartet are excellent, although they are not superior to a pair of famous discs by the Domus ensemble on Hyperion. Nonetheless, this set is a very good introduction to this repertoire. It should be marketed at a 2-for-1 price, so buyers should shop around for a better deal than currently listed on Amazon.
on September 22, 2005
Faure's piano quartets and quintets are the quintessence and perfection of what is called "French impressionist" music. Hidden and unacknowledged for a very long time, they are gradually becoming more and more popular as more people seem to recognise their awesome, yet extremely subtle beauty, elegance and genius.
I bought this double CD a year ago, and only recently after many repeated listenings did I slowly begin to realise what a treasure I had in my hands, which was funny because I have been listening to Faure for a rather long time. Needless to say, I can't take the CD out of my player. Each listening is a revelation, because these pieces go much deeper than they seem.
This music (and especially the slower movements) breaks my heart with longing for a world of glistening beauty, love and sweetness.
If you love music of beauty and elegance and the French impressionist repertoire, give this CD a chance.
In the beginning maybe you won't find much (especially if you are not familiar with Faure and this type of music), but if you dig deeper with repeated listenings, trust me this CD will be a revelation!