Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite (arr. piano); Valses-caprices, Opp. 30, 38, 59 & 62; Mazurka, Op. 32; Pavane, Op. 50

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COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite (arr. piano); Valses-caprices, Opp. 30, 38, 59 & 62; Mazurka, Op. 32; Pavane, Op. 50
PERFORMER: Pierre-Alain Volondat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553741

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The piano original of Fauré’s celebrated Pavane is seldom heard, or even included in so-called ‘complete’ recordings of his piano music. David Doughty’s notes rightly point out that it shows Fauré intended a faster tempo than we usually hear in the orchestral or choral versions – but almost everywhere else Pierre-Alain Volondat’s tempi are slack, bordering at times on the funereal (over 11 minutes for the third Valse-caprice). His technique and sympathy for the music are not in doubt, but there’s a point beyond which the limpid becomes merely limp, and these are not renderings of these piano pieces – not in any case among Fauré’s finest – I feel I could cherish. It’s certainly interesting to hear the solo piano form of the Pelléas et Mélisande suite: the Sarabande and the ‘Fileuse’ (here given in a transcription by Cortot) work perfectly well, but the weightier outer movements cry out for Koechlin’s inspired orchestration, plus Fauréen que Fauré. Though nicely recorded, this is therefore a disappointing release, though the bargain price and the inclusion of the Pavane (elegantly enough done) may tempt Fauré enthusiasts who desire to possess the master’s every note.

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Calum MacDonald