Fauré • Pavane Op.50

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The Pavane Op.50 by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) is blessed with one of the most delectable and beloved melodies ever composed, and was from the start one of its composer’s most popular works, exuding the spirit of Paris’s fêtes galantes at the turn of the century.

The piece was originally composed for orchestra in 1887, described by Fauré at the time as “carefully crafted but not otherwise important”. Before the end of the year, there followed a version for chorus and orchestra. Some three decades later, the iconic impresario Serge Diaghilev had it choreographed for his Ballets Russes, a sign of its continuing great popularity.

Many transcriptions of the Pavane have existed, including the solo piano version published in 1889 (the composer’s duet version was also advertised, but if it ever appeared it has sadly been lost).

Many simplified versions have and continue to appear, but for those wanting to explore the original version (most likely prepared by Fauré himself, who performed it several times and even recorded it for player piano), Bärenreiter have just issued a superb urtext edition, BA 11832, the subject of this short review…

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Fauré: The 5 Impromptus

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Addressing the piano music of the great French master Fauré in my recent review of Louis Lortie’s superb recordings, I noted,

“Of all the truly seminal composers in the evolution of the piano repertoire, Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) remains one of the less performed, his significance little understood, his extraordinary music too easily overlooked.”

How joyous, then, to see Jean-Pierre Bartoli’s new scholarly-critical performing edition of the 5 Impromptus from leading publisher Bärenreiter, based on the musical text from the corresponding volume of their Oeuvres complètes de Gabriel Fauré of 2020.

These ravishing treasures are suitable for the advanced performer at diploma level and above (the second Impromptu, and best known of the five, is presently included on ARSM, DipABRSM, ATCL and ALCM syllabi).

Let’s take a look at this new edition…

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