WORKS: Barcarolles; Ballade in F sharp, Op. 19
PERFORMER: Pierre-Alain Volondat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553634
While never abandoning the gently rocking movement of its Venetian origins, the barcarolle reached its harmonic and rhythmic zenith in the hands of Gabriel Fauré. His 13 Barcarolles were not composed as a set, appearing instead at regular intervals throughout his creative life. Hearing the entire collection may leave some listeners slightly seasick and pining for the firm ground of the Ballade.
Volondat displays poetry and sensitivity, adding introversion or passion as appropriate. The melody lines are slightly too dominant in the early barcarolles, and phrasing occasionally verges on the awkward, but these are fairly minor quibbles. With more Fauré and works by Franck and Dukas to come, Volondat promises to be a valuable addition to the Naxos stable.