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Élégie op. 24 (Gabriel Fauré)




Composed in 1880, Fauré’s Élégie was first performed on 15 December 1883 at the Société Nationale de Musique by cellist Jules Loëb, a professor at the Paris Conservatoire and the work’s dedicatee. Intended as the slow movement of a sonata which never saw the light of day, the Élégie was  orchestrated by Fauré in 1885 at the request of the conductor, Édouard Colonne. The original destination of the piece accounts for its highly expressive character and ABA structure. Written in the key of C minor, the work begins with repeated chords on the piano that underpin a sweeping melody on the cello. The writing is based on the treatment of a descending motif in the form of a melodic march which is also on a descending line. These opening bars create a gloomy atmosphere that forms a contrast with the passionate mood of the central section. Written in A flat major, this section  opens with a theme in ternary rhythm, stated by the piano then taken up by the cello. This passage comes to a close with virtuoso figures in the cello reminiscent of the cadenza of a concerto. At the end of this bravura section, the initial melody returns an octave higher, played in the intense upper register of the cello over a stormy piano accompaniment. The shortened repeat of the first section gives way to that of the second ternary theme, presented here in C minor and, as a result, tinged with a melancholy which it did not have when it was first introduced. Enthusiastically received at its first performance, the Élégie has remained very popular and ranks as one of the seminal works in the cello repertory.

    Person - 1
  • FAURÉ, Gabriel (1845-1924)
  • Themes - 2
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello