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Fauré: Nocturnes & Barcarolles

WholeNote Magazine
1 mai 2014

 Stéphane Lemelin's interweaves Fauré's complete nocturnes and barcarolles (13 of each) on this two-disc release, providing an ideal chronological overview of the composer's development. Lemelin's program notes are clear and interesting. For example, he notes that while the pieces became less nocturne - or barcarolle-like over the composer's lifetime, the publisher retained those generic names in an effort to boost sales! 
Interpretively, Lemelin follows Fauré's abstention from rubato yet maintains expressiveness with inflections and sense of breathing, in the manner of a Fauré mélodie (art song). Technically he executes well, from the clarity and filigree work of Barcarolle No. 2 to the rumbling bass, octaves and even tone clusters of Nocturne No. 12. Stylistically, many listeners will find the experimental works of the years 1902-1913 most difficult to appreciate: Lemelin is uncompromising in projecting the bleakness and obsessive quality of Nocturne No.10, or the repetitive melody and harmony (for this chromatically sophisticated composer) if Barcarolle No. 9. And yet, on repeated hearing I find that these pieces too reveal many beauties. 
As for Fauré's accessible early pieces, Lemelin sets a high standard of commitment from the beginning. His playing of Nocturne No. 1 is full of harmonic interest and emotional depth. Though Barcarolle No. 1 is fairly conventional Lemelin elevates it, capturing the beauty of texture and occasional twists of chord direction that will become stylistic trademarks. And so it goes, onward from these works and throughout this wonderful set.
Roger Knox - The WholeNote