WORKS: Romances sans paroles, Op. 17/1 & 3; Ballade, Op. 19; Nocturnes, Op. 33/1 & 2, Op. 63, Op. 104/1 & Op. 119; Préludes, Op. 103/2 & 7,
PERFORMER: Kun Woo Paik (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 470 246-2
If you want an introduction to Fauré’s piano music, you could hardly do better than this. Kun Woo Paik is Korean but lives in Paris. He has just the right touch for Fauré – affectionate and melting – yet in revealing the subtleties this slightly reserved composer holds, he does so without being self-conscious. He never ‘applies’ expression. His selection of pieces represents Fauré’s three main types – barcarolles, impromptus and nocturnes – though he obviously favours the nocturnes, for there are five here against only one Barcarolle and the playful second Impromptu, which babbles delightfully. The majestic sixth Nocturne, more than nine minutes long, used to be the BBC’s favourite (or so it seemed), but the 11th is wonderfully strange and the first darkly inward, close to the post-Wagnerian world of Chausson. There are also two of the nine Preludes including No. 2, which is rather like a novel sort of scherzo and most delicately played. Finally comes the rather over-extended Ballade, Fauré’s longest solo piano work and virtually the only thing Liszt couldn’t sight-read, though he may have been pretending. The recording is quite spacious and gives the piano a certain cool distance which helps float the music ideally.