The projected second movement Andante was written first, and performed on 20 December 1878 at the Société nationale in Paris, by Musin with André Messager at the piano. By the following summer Fauré wrote to his friend Pauline Viardot that he was happy with the progress of the concerto, and believed that it would soon be finished. He stressed that he had material for the finale, and that although it was a difficult task he hoped to complete it.
But destiny had another view. Fauré never could bring himself to complete the last movement of his concerto, and Musin performed the first and second movements only on 12 April 1880, with Édouard Colonne conducting. While it might be easier for us, with hindsight, to see the intrinsic dichotomy at the heart of the project, I find this attempt—a trace of his inner searching—all the more moving. Furthermore, Fauré never forgot this music. The Andante was later transformed to become his Op 75 for violin and piano, and in his very last work, the String Quartet Op 121 written some thirty years later, he reused the first motif of the Violin Concerto. While the score of the Andante has been lost, the first movement—the full score of which has survived—is a rare and precious testimony to Fauré’s subtle knowledge of orchestration.
from notes by Philippe Graffin © 2002