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Fauré, Ravel, Enesco, Boulanger

Fauré, Ravel, Enesco, Boulanger, Gaëtane Prouvost, Dana Ciocarlie, Label EnPhases, produit par UNIK ACCESS

Fauré, Ravel, Enesco, Boulanger

Gaëtane Prouvost, Dana Ciocarlie

1CD - Label ENPHASES (ENP012)
Released on 20/10/2023 Distribution OUTHERE

Recorded at Studio Stephen Paulello, 2023

Sound recording / Art direction / Editing
Franck Jaffrès / Unik Access

Gaëtane Prouvost, violin
Dana Ciocarlie, piano
Mara Dobresco, paino (#3 #4 #5)


Lili BOULANGER 1893-1911 

Georges ENESCO 1881-1955 
Pièces pour violon et  quatre mains 
4.Menuet Triste 

Maurice RAVEL 1875-1937 
6.Sonate opus posthume 
7.Pavane pour une infante défunte 
8.Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré

Gabriel FAURÉ 1845-1924 
Sonate op.108 
9.Allegro non troppo 
11.Allegro non troppo

We know Gabriel Fauré the composer well but little the pedagogue. This recording aims to highlight the influence of the composer in France and even in Europe when, in 1896, he became professor at the Paris conservatory taking over from Massenet.

The program of this dise wishes to bring together one of the work of his last périod and compositions by his illustrious students: Ravel, Boulanger et Enesco.

FAURÉ AND FRIENDS (Text of the libretto by Jacques Bonnaure)

In 1896, Jules Massenet resigned from his composition class at the Conservatoire to devote himself to his work on opera and was replaced by Gabriel Fauré. At the age of 52,  Fauré was then ‘Inspector of musical education’, a tiring but modest post from a social standpoint. His applications to l’Institut de France and to the post of music critic for the Figaro had foundered, and although he had gained an honorable recognition in the music world, his career had stalled somewhat. He kept on his com-position class for nine years before being appointed Director of the Conservatoire. Among his students were some of the finest talents of the younger generation, including Maurice Ravel, George Enescu, Florent Schmitt, Charles Koechlin... According to numerous accounts, he was always anxious not to stifle their creativity. Fauré's pedagogical practice was based on the transmission of an approach to music that he had benefited from as a student at the École Niedermeyer. The aim of this institution was to train choirmasters by bringing them into contact with the great masters of the past, most notably Bach, Handel and the polyphonists of the 16th century, as well as with Gregorian chant. This led to an in-depth study of counter-point, modality and its consequences for harmony. This last point being of great importance to him and his pupils as it broadened the scope of traditional harmony. And indeed, in their diversity, none of them composed in the manner of the master.

In 1897, Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), having only recently become one of his students, composed a Sonata for violin and piano in one movement, premiered at the Conservatoire by the very young George Enescu playing the violin and the composer playing the piano. This highly interesting work was not published until 1975. It is true that it differs substantially from the general perception of the image that we have of the composer and that Ravel himself did not wish to include it in his catalogue. Its single movement (Allegro moderato) is driven by a post-romantic expressiveness close to the aesthetics of César Franck's disciples. The breadth of the developments and the art of obtaining a large-scale form starting out from limited material (an eight-note cell in the exposition) are also close to ‘Franckism’. Can we detect in it some  signs of a Fauréian influence? This has been asserted, but it is less apparent, except for the melodic charm of the musical ideas, especially the first one, which acts as a leitmotif structuring the whole work.

Two years later, he dedicated the Pavane pour une infante défunte to the Princesse de Polignac, which attests to his inclusion into the highest level of musical high society. Later, he would be rather harsh with regard to this piece, which had become as good as popular, but the form of which he considered too classical and over influenced by Chabrier (he did, however, produce an orchestral version in 1910, and here we can listen to a transcrip-tion for violin and piano by the famous violinist Paul Kochanski). The success of the Pavane, however, is easily explained by the simplicity and clarity of the form and the sheer beauty of the melodic material.

In 1922 Henry Prunières, the director of the Revue musicale, invited several of Fauré's former pupils (Schmitt, Enescu, Roger-Ducasse, Koechlin) to compose a short piece in tribute to the old master. Ravel offered his Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré. The main motif transposes the letters g.a.b.r.i.e.l.f.a.u.r.é into Anglo-Saxon notation. It is an affectionate melody without end that the violin unfurls, over a very subtle piano accompaniment. At times only a few very mild dissonances spice up the melody before the piece concludes very peacefully. With the reserved nature of this work, the Berceuse marks Ravel's evolution towards a more linear music, a tendency that could also be detected in some of Fauré's later works. Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) did not attend Fauré's class but received private lessons from him, the composer being related to her father, the composer Ernest Boulanger, Prix de Rome in 1855. In Nocturne and Cortège two very complementary pieces from different periods are juxtaposed. The Nocturne dates from 1911. It is a dreamy piece that has been associated with a branch of musical impressionism because of its subtle harmony, but the young composer displays a marve-lous sense of melody. Three years later, whilst staying at the Villa Médicis, after winning the Prix de Rome, she composed the short Cortège, a cheerful and optimistic piece with brilliant violin writing, dedica-ted to the violinist Yvonne Astruc.

The Romanian George Enescu (1881-1955), apart from being a violin prodigy, was one of Fauré's most gifted students. In 1900, when he wrote Pastorale, Menuet triste and Nocturne, he was barely out of his teens, and if his personality had not yet revealed itself, he was already in full possession of his technical means. The Pastorale (doucement balancé)( gently swaying) unfolds a long melody tinged with a modal aspect. The Menuet triste (Modéré) is not a baroque dance but reflects a neo-classical preoccupation that was quite common at the time. The Nocturne (Très lent et rêveur)(very slow and dreamy) is frankly romantic in inspira-tion, with a brief violent and passionate central episode.

Fauré's Sonata No. 2 in E minor has never enjoyed the same noto-riety as the first sonata, which predates it by forty years. It is true that its content is, at first sight, less accessible - but it seems to us today to be more original and charac-teristic of the composer's mature manner. It seems that Fauré benefited from the har-monic developments made by his pupils and that, without following them, he had for some years inherited the developments' that he had suggested to them through his teaching and that they had implemented. The Sonata was begun in the summer of 1916, during a stay in Evian.

The opening Allegro non troppo seems to emerge from the depths of the piano's lower register, full of dark pounding. The second theme, on the other hand, is luminous and sensual, and seems to remind us of the Fauré of old. The whole movement is stretched between these two poles. The general mood of the slow movement (Andante) has been compared to the final works of Mozart or Schubert. Apart from the difference in style, in all cases we find ourselves in an emotional world that cannot be described as happy or sad, a sound world beyond feeling. Fauré has reused and modified a theme from his much earlier, unpublished Symphony in D minor, which creates a tension between well-defined melodic ideas from the past and a rather complex, more contemporary discourse. In the finale (Allegro non troppo) one never feels the effort, for the presentation of the three themes is carried out with perfect fluidity and the develop-ments seem limpid, alternating between episodes that are alternately delicately melodious and vigorous with, shortly before the end, a luminous return of the second theme of the first movement.

Gaëtane Prouvost, Dana Ciocarlie

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