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Valses-Caprices (Gabriel Fauré)

Date

1894

Description

No. 1 in A major, op. 30 – No. 2 in D flat major, op. 38 – No. 3 in G flat major, op. 59 – No. 4 in A flat major, op. 62

Text

Composed over a period of approximately ten years, respectively in 1882, 1884, 1893 and 1893-1894, the Valses-Caprices are not a cycle or a collection. They provide an insight into the development of the composer, whose use of harmony becomes increasingly original and sophisticated: ideal for performers seeking both digital brilliance and uniqueness of language. When the young Marguerite Long came to see Fauré for the first time, she played him the Valse-Caprice No. 3. Around 1905-1908, the composer himself recorded these four pieces on a player-piano for the German firm, Hupfeld. Their title, taken from Liszt, seems to herald a brilliant, capricious style of music. And, in fact, few of Fauré’s works risk such an expressive tone. Performers should however guard against a display of ostentatious virtuosity merely for effect, warned the composer in a letter to pianist Robert Lortat (who premiered the Piano Quintet No. 2 and was the dedicatee of the Nocturne No. 12): “May I ask you – these composers are so tedious! – to play the opening themes of each of the Valses-Caprices at a more moderate pace? The justification, to my mind, for the title: Valses-Caprices, is variety of tempo. They are always played too quickly and too uniformly fast. Oh pianists, pianists, pianists, when will you consent to suppress your implacable virtuosity!!!!” The many tempo markings occurring throughout the pieces draw attention to the flexible agogics desired by Fauré. This expressive approach goes hand in hand with a plethora of thematic motifs and a great many stylistic changes in the writing.

    Persons - 2
  • FAURÉ, Gabriel (1845-1924)
  • LONG, Marguerite (1874-1966)
  • Themes - 2
  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique
  • Piano – Fin-de-siècle Romantic Piano Music