WORKS: Préludes, Op. 103; Impromptus, Opp. 25, 31, 34, 86, 91 & 102
PERFORMER: Pierre-Alain Volondat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553740
In the words of his biographer, Jean-Michel Nectoux, ‘Fauré’s work is a work of transition; he is a musician of the 19th century, but also a classic of the 20th’. The 19th-century side is displayed in his predilection for miniatures with Chopinesque titles and by the Schumannesque inflections of his earlier piano style. But in his maturity his music became more experimental, sometimes bordered on the austere and, in the case of the Op. 103 Préludes, composed when he was 66, carried more than a hint of nostalgia. Volondat makes the most of the built-in contrasts in the Préludes, the lovingly picked out, angular melody in the First, the frantic pecking in the tarantella-like Second, the modality in the Fourth. The Tenth is a piano arrangement, by Fauré himself, of the prelude to his opera Pénélope. The Impromptus were not intended as a set, but were composed individually at different periods in Fauré’s life. They were taken up by Alfred Cortot, who made the piano arrangement of the Op. 86 work, originally written for the harp. Volondat is fleet of finger in Op. 31’s quicker passages, duly graceful in its central section, and he copes well with the whole-tone gyrations of Op. 102.