The nine Préludes
(1910–1911) rank among Fauré’s most elusive masterpieces. The cool serenity of No 1 is contradicted by the central section’s slow and painful climbing, while the ‘Saint Vitus’s danse’ of No 2, with its syncopated chords snapping at the dancer’s heels ends in calm. No 3 is a supreme instance of how Fauré’s lyrical eloquence can be thwarted or broken, creating an agony of incompleteness. Here the incomparable master of fluidity, of the long lyric line, expresses a state close to inarticulacy. No 5 is turbulent indeed, while Prélude No 6 was greatly admired by Aaron Copland, its impersonality doubtless appealing to a composer bred in Nadia Boulanger’s neo-Classical tradition. No 7’s stammering and halting progress again suggests a grief that nothing can assuage. No 8 is a repeated-note scherzo journeying from nowhere to nowhere, while No 9 concludes the set in a mood of uneasy truce.
from notes by Bryce Morrison © 1995