Hyperion Records

Thème et variations, Op 73
composer
summer 1895; first performed in December 1896 at St James's Hall, London, by Léon Delafosse

Recordings
'Fauré: Piano Music' (CDA67875)
Fauré: Piano Music
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00 CDA67875  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Fauré: The Complete Music for Piano' (CDS44601/4)
Fauré: The Complete Music for Piano
MP3 £20.00FLAC £20.00ALAC £20.00Buy by post £22.00 CDS44601/4  4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Theme: Thème
Track 1 on CDA67875 [1'58]
Track 7 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [2'07] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 01: L'istesso tempo
Track 2 on CDA67875 [0'58]
Track 8 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'00] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 02: Più mosso
Track 3 on CDA67875 [0'53]
Track 9 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [0'45] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 03: Un poco più mosso
Track 4 on CDA67875 [0'48]
Track 10 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [0'33] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 04: L'istesso tempo
Track 5 on CDA67875 [1'25]
Track 11 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'07] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 05: Un poco più mosso
Track 6 on CDA67875 [0'48]
Track 12 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [0'42] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 06: Molto adagio
Track 7 on CDA67875 [1'50]
Track 13 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'28] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 07: Allegro moderato
Track 8 on CDA67875 [0'53]
Track 14 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [0'41] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 08: Andante molto moderato
Track 9 on CDA67875 [1'27]
Track 15 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'24] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 09: Quasi adagio
Track 10 on CDA67875 [1'17]
Track 16 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'25] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 10: Allegro vivo
Track 11 on CDA67875 [1'16]
Track 17 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [1'12] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Variation 11: Andante molto, moderato espressivo
Track 12 on CDA67875 [2'47]
Track 18 on CDS44601/4 CD1 [2'01] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Thème et variations, Op 73
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Thème et variations Op 73—Fauré’s longest and certainly one of his greatest pieces for solo piano—was begun in the summer of 1895, most of which Fauré wasted lobbying for the job of music critic of France’s leading newspaper, Le Figaro (a post he finally got in 1903). Its premiere didn’t come, however, until December 1896 when it was performed by Léon Delafosse at St James’s Hall in London. Several things could have led Fauré to compose a set of variations at this time. No doubt he heard his friend Louis Diémer perform Rameau’s Gavotte et six doubles, which figured that year in his recitals. Saint-Saëns had just composed his Thème varié. But most likely it was Fauré’s love of Schumann and his Études symphoniques that was his greatest influence.

The theme, in C sharp minor, is presented with march-like solemnity, becoming haunting in the second line when the dynamic falls to piano. The ascending scale of the opening is repeated after eight bars, but with different harmonies. We can already hear Fauré’s fondness for bass lines, the proper performance of which is essential in his music. In the first variation, the theme appears in the bass while the right hand weaves a filigree web in the high register. The second is scherzo-like, also giving room for the ‘cellos’ to shine. Energy builds in the third variation which combines duplets and triplets. Fauré insisted that they should be clearly defined. The fourth variation carries on the élan of the previous one, while capturing a haunted feeling in its middle section. The texture of the fifth is not easy to make clear: double thirds and double sixths abound in this unhurried waltz. The sixth is rather spooky, with the bass rising in octaves while the right hand descends in sighs. The seventh, eighth and ninth variations are all wonderful moments, with the latter expressing a rapturous stillness. This is broken by the very difficult tenth variation which demands great agility combined with precision, lightness, and a big reserve of power for its ending. The audience usually thinks this is the end, but it isn’t. In what can only be described as a moment of pure genius, Fauré switches to the major mode for his final variation which looks sparse on the page but is one of the most intense things he ever wrote. Every time I play it I get the shivers. As Robert Orledge writes in his excellent biography of the composer: ‘It raises the whole work onto a higher, almost religious plane … the chorale rises from its serenity to a climax of transcendental intensity, making the flashy excitement of the penultimate variation seem trivial in comparison.’

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2013

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA66911/4 disc 1 track 13
Variation 6: Molto adagio
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-95-91113
Duration
1'28
Recording date
8 September 1994
Recording venue
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Fauré: The Complete Music for Piano (CDA66911/4)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: April 1995
    Deletion date: October 2013
    4CDs for the price of 3 — Superseded by CDS44601/4
  2. Fauré: The Complete Music for Piano (CDS44601/4)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: May 2014
    4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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