Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs “Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune”. Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style.
Fauré’s music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20th century. When he was born, Chopin was still composing, and by the time of Fauré’s death, jazz and the atonal music of the Second Viennese School were being heard. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which describes him as the most advanced composer of his generation in France, notes that his harmonic and melodic innovations influenced the teaching of harmony for later generations.
The Fantasie for Flute and Orchestra was written as a competition piece but is certainly more than just an exercise. Although under five minutes the piece is in two movements and beautifully demonstrates the range and abilities of the flute. The work recorded here is an orchestration made in 1957 for Jean-Pierre Rampal.
Prelude to Penelope
Pénélope is an opera in three acts by the French composer Gabriel Fauré. The libretto, by René Fauchois is based on Homer’s Odyssey. The Prelude to Penelope, Faure’s only opera, is a good piece of dramatic music writing that sets the scene for what is to follow: the return of Ulysses to his homeland after 20 years absence.
Ballade in F-Sharp Major
The Ballade for Piano and Orchestra comes from 1879 and is like Faure’s Nocturnes in mood. The music begins with a reflective melody and slowly builds in tempo to a dance-like melody becoming more and more tranquil and finally fading away.
The Pavane is a famous piece, slightly melancholy but with elegance and beautifully composed. This is the version without boys choir, which I prefer.