Faure: Piano Quintets
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The Piano Quintet No. 1 in D Minor was not completed until 1906, but its genesis dates back as far as 1887. It opens onto a pristine dream world still innocent of Debussy's autoeroticism, but suffused with the throbbing pathos of Brahms. Fauré's score shimmers with the same dappled sunlight that is reflected through the trees onto the women's dresses in Renoir's Le moulin de la Galette. It's an effect that has to be seen in the painting and heard in the music to be fully appreciated. The Piano Quintet No. 2 in C Minor was written over a period of a little over two years, between 1919 and 1921, and dedicated to Dukas. Interestingly, the evolution in this work is not further in the direction Fauré had taken in the earlier quintet. The melodic lines are not as sinuous, neither is the harmony quite as vague. There is almost a return now to the cleaner, classical lines of Fauré's teacher, Saint-Saëns, though whether that French conservative would have approved of his student's parallel chromatic progressions is open to debate.
There are far fewer recordings of these two quintets than there are of Fauré's piano quartets, but among them one of the loveliest is with Domus on Hyperion, a CD I've cherished since it was released in 1995. Domus, of course, folded up its geodesic dome and went home several years ago, but thankfully Hyperion has kept this recording, at full price, thank you, in their catalog. Though you'd have to rob me of that disc at gunpoint, this new one with the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Cristina Ortiz is definitely a keeper.
The Fine Arts Quartet was originally founded in 1946. Since then, it has undergone numerous changes in personnel. The roster of players on this 2007 recording are Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violins; Yuri Gandelsman, viola; and Wolfgang Laufer, cello. It should be noted that Gandelsman left the ensemble at the end of the 2008 season and was replaced on an interim basis by Chauncey Patterson. Outstanding as the Domus performances are, the Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz manage to scent this music with a bouquet I can only describe as quintessentially French. In their hands, Fauré's music vibrates with a sentient tenderness almost too sad and too personal to be expressed. Beyond recommended, this is a mandatory purchase. -- Fanfare, Jerry Dubins, Nov/Dec 2009
Top Customer Reviews
Both works are given subtle and musical performances here by the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Cristina Ortiz. The Fine Arts Quartet, founded in 1946 and long resident at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, have a well-deserved reputation for music-making of the highest sort. I have positively reviewed their set of the Schumann Quartets Schumann: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 and the Mendelssohn String Quintets with violist Danilo Rossi Mendelssohn: String Quintets Nos. 1 & 2. Cristina Ortiz is a Brazilian pianist whose recording years ago of the Stenhammar concertos brought me to that poorly known Swedish composer, one who has since become an obsessive favorite of mine.Read more ›
Faure (1845 -- 1924) composed his two piano quintets late in life. He worked on the Quintet No. 1 in d minor, op. 89, for many years before he finally completed it in 1906. The work was dedicated to the famous violinist Eugene Ysaye whose quartet performed the premiere. Faure composed the Quintet No. 2 in c minor op. 115 in 1919-1921. These quintets, both products of the 20th Century, are elusively romantic. The emotional range moves from melancholy to hard-won hope. As with other Faure chamber music, the piano quintets demand repeated hearings to appreciate. The surface of the works is lyrical and accessible but the music is subtle. The part writing is close and intricate, harmonies and rhythms change repeatedly, and passages of solo playing alternate with ensemble sections and counterpoint. The music flows seamlessly through its many changes of direction. Keith Anderson's liner notes offer good movement-by-movement descriptions of each work. These descriptions do not adequately capture what the listener hears in terms of their internal flow and unity.
The three-movement d minor quintet has a long slow movement as its heart which begins quietly in individual voices and works to a large climax before fading away.Read more ›