In paradisum – Requiem, Op. 48 – Pie Jesu and In Paradisum; Barcarolles Nos 1, 10 & 12; Nocturnes Nos 7, 10, 11 & 13; Ballade, Op. 19; Theme et Variations, Op. 73;
Louis Lortie (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20149 75:54 mins
Louis Lortie’s previous Fauré recital Après un rêve interleaved original piano works with arrangements of his well-known pieces. This new collection is framed by Lortie’s tasteful transcriptions of the ‘Pie Jesu’ and ‘In Paradisum’ from the Requiem. The focus though, is more firmly on Fauré’s solo piano writing, with three Barcarolles, four Nocturnes and the uncharacteristically forthright Theme and Variations. Only the remarkable Ballade Op. 19 has a dual existence in solo and concertante forms. As Roger Nichols notes, it builds on the inheritance of Chopin and Liszt, yet with a pianism distinct from each of them.
Lortie more than meets the pianistic and musical challenge of Fauré’s unshowy virtuosity, his riding of each dappled ebb and flow of the Barcarolles reflecting a mature mastery. Nor is there just the rarefied Fauré on show, his insouciant charm and playfulness being to the fore and captured perfectly in the Theme and Variations. Lortie picks out delicate shadings in the deceptively unruffled first section of the Ballade with apparent nonchalance, and provides an object lesson in pacing of the Nocturnes, typified by the exquisite easing from the first flourishes of No. 7 back into its opening theme. The adroit handling of the transitions in the 13th Nocturne from abstruse, slightly troubled musings to its remarkably feisty climax and cautiously assuaging conclusion encapsulate both Lortie’s and Fauré’s refinement. As Fauré’s last piano work, it is a fitting conclusion to a marvellous recital, with ‘In Paradisum’ a heart-melting coda.