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Piano Quartet No 2 in G minor, Op 45

'Fauré: Piano Quartets' (CDA30007)
Fauré: Piano Quartets
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99Buy by post £8.50 CDA30007  Hyperion 30th Anniversary series  
'Fauré: Piano Quartets' (CDA66166)
Fauré: Piano Quartets
Movement 1: Allegro molto moderato
Track 5 on CDA30007 [10'49] Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
Track 5 on CDA66166 [10'49]
Movement 2: Allegro molto
Track 6 on CDA30007 [3'19] Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
Track 6 on CDA66166 [3'19]
Movement 3: Adagio non troppo
Track 7 on CDA30007 [10'20] Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
Track 7 on CDA66166 [10'20]
Movement 4: Allegro molto
Track 8 on CDA30007 [7'57] Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
Track 8 on CDA66166 [7'57]

Piano Quartet No 2 in G minor, Op 45
Comparatively little is known about the history of the Second Piano Quartet. It was probably composed some time during the years 1885/86, just after Fauré had been awarded the Prix Chartier by the Academy of Fine Arts for his chamber music. The Second Quartet is undoubtedly one of the pinnacles of his chamber output and it is difficult to understand why this superbly crafted and melodically generous work has never managed to achieve the popularity of the First. As in the Second Violin Sonata (Op 108), themes from the first movement crop up in various guises in later movements, but Fauré’s use of thematic cross-reference is subtler, less melodramatic, than in the so-called ‘cyclical’ works of Liszt or César Franck.

The first movement (Allegro molto moderato) begins with an ardent unison string melody from whose contours many subsequent themes are derived. In broad formal terms this movement resembles the opening Allegro of the First Quartet, but here Fauré places greater weight on the coda, which contains some of his most gorgeous harmonic sidesteps.

The two middle movements are in complete contrast: an unusually violent C minor scherzo with a breathless syncopated piano theme is followed by a serene Adagio. The gentle undulating piano figure which opens the slow movement was apparently inspired by a memory of the evening bells of the village of Cadirac which Fauré frequently heard as a child. Aaron Copland wrote of this movement that ‘its beauty is truly classic if we define classicism as intensity on a background of calm’.

Passion and violence are again let loose in the finale (Allegro molto). The relentless forward drive of this movement is quite unlike anything else in Fauré: even the finale of the First Quartet manages an occasional pause for reflection. Incredible though it may seem, Fauré manages to keep something in reserve for the coda: an electrifying crescendo, culminating in a massive ‘più mosso’ restatement of the second subject in G major. The final bars are pure joy.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 1986

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Details for CDA66166 track 5
Allegro molto moderato
Recording date
26 February 1985
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Fauré: Piano Quartets (CDA30007)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: October 2010
    Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
  2. Fauré: Piano Quartets (CDA66166)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: September 1986
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