Work: Pavane, Op. 50
About This Work
The years 1886 and 1887 were among the most productive of Fauré's career. In addition to the Piano Quartet No. 2, Fauré produced two of his best-known works during these years, the Requiem and the Pavane. The first version of the
Pavane, for orchestra alone, was written for the Vicomtesse Elisabeth Greffuhle, one of Fauré's many patronesses. Fauré later made a version of the work that included a choral setting of a text by Comte Robert de Montesquiou, a cousin of the Vicomtesse. The text, written in imitation of Verlaine, evokes images of eighteenth century courtship with its old-fashioned references and pastoral names. In addition to these two versions, Fauré made a transcription for flute and woodwinds, and another for solo piano; the latter version was one of the few works of which Fauré himself made a recording.
Like the Requiem, the Pavane employs a muted palette, a language more of elegance than of emphasis. The pavane's origins as a stately Renaissance dance are evident in Fauré's reconception: A steady pizzicato undercurrent provides a grounding for the swaying, languid rhythm of the melodic line and Fauré's characteristic seductive harmonies. In the choral version, the musical discourse is set up as a dialogue between the male and female voices; both groups occasionally unite in passages about the power of love.
-- Anne Feeney, All Music Guide
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