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Fauré: Chamber Music / Quintetto Fauré Di Roma

Release Date: 10/26/2004 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 92337   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Federico AgostiniPina CarmirelliMaureen JonesFrancesco Strano,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fauré QuintetAmes Piano QuartetNash Ensemble,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a logical and artistically rewarding collection. At its heart are the substantial sonata-format chamber works of Fauré. These are fleshed out with La Bonne Chanson which if it needs claim to belong here is passported in through the presence of a chamber ensemble. There is also the little Elégie for cello and piano.

The Quintetto Fauré di Roma turn in fine performances of the two Piano Quintets. They are in touch with the bittersweet poignant serenity of this music as well as the harum-scarum rush of the allegro vivo of Op. 115. These are sympathetic performances recorded with a warm glow but with lucidity voice-definition. The only fly in the ointment is the vinegary edge taken on by the two
Read more violins in the finale of Op. 89. This disc is amongst the best representation of the quintets. If you want to sample try the songlike Allegro moderato of No. 1; its chiming lightheartedness is akin to the two piano writing in Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony.

Not quite everything in the garden is lovely. The Ames quartet in the two Piano Quartets are energetic rather than joyous. This is Fauré played as tempestuous Beethoven rather than as serene ecstatic. The playing tends to be burly and lacks emotive finesse; not that there aren’t fine moments along the way. However you could do better with the Hyperion, Erato or EMI Classics.

Sarah Walker is associated with a much-loved chanson tradition which I have always thought of as started by Janet Baker and continued by Felicity Lott. Her opulently auburn tones illumine Fauré's Verlaine cycle La Bonne Chanson. It is somehow the equivalent in music of fin-de-siècle ecstasy; all hooded eyes, eros and velvet. In the final song - possibly the most affecting of the nine - the access of excited melody points retrospectively to Franck.

The Piano Trio was premiered in Paris by the Thibaud-Casals-Cortot trio in June 1923. It was written at Argèles, the birthplace of Ravel. Marcia Crayford, Christopher Van Kempen and Ian Brown are the players. The play Fauré makes with joy and sorrow in nostalgia is wonderingly caught. An excellent example of the trio's success in tenderness can be heard in the lovely andantino (tr. 11) and the pealingly active 'conversation' of the finale (tr. 12). This fragile music blooms in the hands of these players.

Thomas Igloi who died young is an outstanding player. I wish that a company of the percipience of Cello Classics would run a series of his recordings drawn from the many BBC broadcasts he made. He was, with Amaryllis Fleming and Zara Nelsova my guide to the cello repertoire in the 1970s when I was discovering classical music. Igloi made the present recordings for CRD in 1975. His strength and subtlety make his playing an ideal complement to these two works. The First Sonata sings like a soul set free and Igloi's distinctively amber tones and sharkskin timbral quality suits the music to perfection. It comes as a shock that this was written in 1917. There is melancholy here but if there is tragedy it has seeped deep into the bones of the piece; it is not in the limelight. Four years later Fauré, by then in his late eighties, used a dignified and soulful Chant Funéraire he had written for military band as the centrepiece for his Op. 117 Second Cello Sonata. He flanked it with two vivacious allegros - the celebratory finale is especially sparkling.

The String Quartet is densely written and in its complexity reminded me of both early Schoenberg and of Bax's Second String Quartet. The whole has an archaic tang; a romanticised slant on the Bach orchestral suites. This work is warmly projected and recorded by the Amati.

The Elégie is a familiar and pleasing makeweight spun with warmth and with sustained control by Warenberg and Brombach.

The Osostowicz-Tomes sonatas are a well loved fixture of the Hyperion (now Helios) catalogue. The bright-eyed cantilena and Dvorakian playfulness of the First Sonata dates from his early days and contrasts with the irritable tense darkness of the Second Sonata which dates from 1916-17. The Second Sonata would pair neatly with contemporary British works such as the Dunhill (United and Cala) and Ireland Second Sonatas (Chandos and Hyperion).

I would confidently recommend this wallet to any collector launching out into Fauré territory. Even the Ames disc has its strengths and four out of the five are outstanding recordings and performances at any price.

Packaging is attractively competent. The set is in wallet format with five stiff card sleeves encased in a nicely solid box. Brilliant have done a superb job in choosing French Impressionist cover illustrations for the box and for each sleeve. The programme notes are pretty full as well perhaps having been licensed from the original releases. The words of the song cycle are not printed although the notes give an impression of the content of each poem.

You could hardly claim that the discs are packed to overflowing but the performance aesthetics are excellent and the price is stunningly inexpensive if you can find the set in the shops. Time was, in the UK, that you could find all sorts of Brilliant Classics sets at branches of Superdrug; no longer. Of course you can always order direct from Joan Records website or from Zweitausendeins in Germany.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Quintet for Piano and Strings no 1 in D minor, Op. 89 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Federico Agostini (Violin), Pina Carmirelli (Violin), Maureen Jones (Piano),
Francesco Strano (Cello), Massimo Paris (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fauré Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1985 
Venue:  Wohlen Church, Bern 
Length: 29 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Quintet for Piano and Strings no 2 in C minor, Op. 115 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pina Carmirelli (Violin), Federico Agostini (Violin), Massimo Paris (Viola),
Francesco Strano (Cello), Maureen Jones (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fauré Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919-1921; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1985 
Venue:  Wohlen Church, Bern 
Length: 32 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Quartet for Piano and Strings no 1 in C minor, Op. 15 by Gabriel Fauré
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ames Piano Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876-1879; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1990 
Venue:  Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY 
Length: 30 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Quartet for Piano and Strings no 2 in G minor, Op. 45 by Gabriel Fauré
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ames Piano Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1885-86; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1990 
Venue:  Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY 
Length: 35 Minutes 11 Secs. 
La bonne chanson, Op. 61 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Sarah Walker (Mezzo Soprano), Sarah Walker (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Date of Recording: 1980 
Venue:  Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead, London 
Language: French 
Trio for Piano and Strings in D minor, Op. 120 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Christopher Van Kampen (Cello), Ian Brown (Piano), Marcia Crayford (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 1980 
Venue:  Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead, London 
Notes: Composition written: France (1922 - 1923). 
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 109 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Thomas Igloi (Cello), Clifford Benson (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; France 
Date of Recording: 1975 
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 117 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Clifford Benson (Piano), Thomas Igloi (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1921; France 
Date of Recording: 1975 
Quartet for Strings in E minor, Op. 121 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Barbara Suter (Violin), Nicolas Corti (Viola), Johannes Degen (Cello),
Willy Zimmermann (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amati String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923-1924; France 
Date of Recording: 06/01/1990 
Elégie for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Wladislav Warenberg (Cello), Sara Crombach (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Date of Recording: 03/10/1999 
Venue:  Reformed Church, Rhoon, Netherlands 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in A major, Op. 13 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Krysia Osostowicz (Violin), Susan Tomes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; France 
Length: 26 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Notes: 08/25/1987 - 08/26/1987 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in E minor, Op. 108 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Krysia Osostowicz (Violin), Susan Tomes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1916-1917; France 
Length: 23 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: 08/25/1987 - 08/26/1987 

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