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Posted October 1, 2010
The works of Gabriel Faure, all too often overshadowed by talented countrymen and contemporaries like Berlioz, Debussy, Ravel or Saint-Saens, are a wonder creative and soothing. In a time when dissonance and experimentation, in what is now know as the impressionist period, were the standard, Faure dared to remain erstwhile, firm in the style of established classical composition. That is not to take away from his amazing ability to compose pieces of exquisite beauty, but to state that he was firmly established in his apparently innate ability to compose pieces that were harmonious and melodic he is credited as the master of the French melodie or 'art song', the French equivalent of German lieder songs for voice. I'm not one to put stock in critic's opinions as I usually disagree and prefer to decide for myself, but this disc was given a good review by the 'Penguin Guide to Classical Music' which stated that the CD contained "polished and cultured playing" and that the compilation was "an ideal collection of [Faure's] orchestral music". I would say that this is a somewhat fair assessment. The sound on this disc leaves a little to be desired, but for the price, I am willing to accept slightly lower quality and it is only slightly lower quality, not horrible. The RTE Sinfionetta, an off-shoot of the RTE Concert Orchestra of Dublin, is conducted by John Georgiadis on this compilation of some of Faure's most popular pieces. Some of the works were not originally composed for orchestra, but they are lovely in their transcribed form nonetheless. Contained on this disc is: 'Masques et Bergamasques' - 4 pieces for orchestra, composed originally as accompaniment for a stage piece. The title is a play on words but means 'masks and bergamasks', bergamasks being a native dance of the people of Bergamo in Northern Italy. Faure said of the piece that "it is like the impression you get from the paintings of Watteau", Watteau being a painter who brought to the canvas the life of the rich aristocrats of the 17th century appropriate as the stage piece that the music accompanied was to be about aristocratic love lives as seen through the eyes of actors hired to perform for the dilettantes. The 1st movement, 'Ouverture' is amazing, my favorite of the four, carried by strings that play a quick harmony, backed by woods that play a wonderful, touching melody. The 'Menuet' is slower, carried almost completely by strings, somewhat unvarying, and a bit tedious. The 'Gavotte', a French folk dance, mercifully returns the composition to the lively origins of the 'Ouverture'. The final movement, a 'Pastorale', slowly closes the composition with a tuneful, mournful, baroque feel. 'Dolly Suite' - 6 pieces, originally composed for piano, here orchestrated nicely, is my favorite piece by Faure (excepting his Op. 116, which is included on this disc). It is a lovely suite, dominated by strings like 'Masques et Bergamasques'. The 1st, 4th and 5th movements are especially dulcet and the suite is delicate and alluring. 'Shylock' is a suite, composed as incidental music to accompany a play based upon, obviously, "The Merchant of Venice". It has 2 movements with vocal accompaniment, the 1st and the 3rd, and is an entertaining diversion, but never struck deep with me, personally. 'Pelleas et Melisande' is, again, incidental music for a play of the same name. Faure also conducted the orchestra for the play, which performed it's 1st show in 1901. The pieces have been performed as solo piano and piano duets. All pieces are enjoyable none stand out from the others. 'Bercuese', Op. 116, is my favorite piece by Faure. Originally composed for solo piano as 'Barcarolle No. 13 in C Major', the piece played here is somewhat of a mix between a sonata and a concerto for violin. The violin is prominent throughout with only subtle, unobtrusive string accompaniment that is restrained, a soft melody to suWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.