Alexandra Matvievskaya - Fauré. © 2020 Artalinna

CD Spotlight

A Wide Emotional Spectrum

Alexandra Matvievskaya plays Fauré piano music,
appreciated by PATRICK MAXWELL

'Matvievskaya plays the exceptionally complex music with a brilliant sense of expression and movement.'


This new recording from the pianist Alexandra Matvievskaya showcases some of the most expansive and soulful of Gabriel Fauré's piano music, full of an intricacy and lightness of touch that has echoes of the works of Ravel and Debussy that would follow.

The first piece included is the Ballade in F sharp major, Op 19 from 1877-79. It maintains throughout a lilting sense of phrases and there is a growing base of chords which expand continually, exploring all shades of harmonic texture and furthering the layered sound which very rarely seeps into monophony, always evoking the idea of a reverie which pervaded much of the piano music of the time. Matvievskaya plays the exceptionally complex music with a brilliant sense of expression and movement.

Listen — Fauré: Allegro moderato - Andante - Un poco più mosso (Ballade in F#)
(track 1, 3:56-4:50) © 2020 Artalinna :

The next piece is the Nocturne No 2 in B major, Op 33 from 1881, which shares many of the same characteristics, but has a more melody-orientated structure which allows for the Andantino espressivo marking at the start to create a simpler texture, before the Allegro ma non troppo creates a more playful theme, and the ensuing return to the more layered sound, backed up by the lower bass notes and moving chords, which is a consistent theme in piano music of this time, most famously and clearly shown in Satie's Gymnopédie.

Listen — Fauré: Allegro ma non troppo (Nocturne No 2)
(track 2, 1:20-2:18) © 2020 Artalinna :

Fauré's thirteenth Nocturne follows, from 1922. From a minimalistic opening it broadens and shrinks at different points, and possesses a more distinctly dark and troubled tone. It grows throughout the middle of the piece into an impassioned and violent section, before swiftly returning at the end to the contemplative and off-beat world of the beginning. It is the most vivid and tumultuous of the pieces included here, and can easily be described as the greatest, owing to the masterly use of style and range that creates such a wide emotional spectrum in a relatively short space, written only two years before the composer's death.

Listen — Fauré: Allegro - Primo Tempo (Nocturne No 13)
(track 3, 6:01-6:52) © 2020 Artalinna :

The Nocturne No 6, Op 63 from 1894 shows the difference of the years, with a more simplistic overall tone evident, although the command of the piano and the sharp contrast of emotions is still on full display. It is played with a sublime level of tenderness and control by Matvievskaya.

Listen — Fauré: Adagio (Dolce) - Allegretto molto moderato (Nocturne No 6)
(track 4, 1:09-2:09) © 2020 Artalinna :

The Thème et variations, Op 73, from 1895, is one of Fauré's most monumental piano pieces, and is based around the powerful march in C sharp minor which opens the piece, gradually building up a panoply of sound around it in different sections, all heading with expressive inevitability towards the same conclusion of the dark key resolve.

The last piece included is the Nocturne No 4, Op 36, from 1884. Opening in a plaintive E flat major, it switches to the minor in a more lyrical and flowing section, building up a unique tension within, before a more melody-driven section which makes use of fast semi-quaver patterns. In this last piece, as the passionately written programme notes attest, 'it is a big scream. The inner soul has become an ocean.' At times more variety and tonal contrast was wanted from Matvievskaya's controlled and astute playing to aid each expressive touch in the constantly changing music.

Listen — Fauré: Andante molto moderato, dolce (Nocturne No 4)
(track 6, 0:00-0:54) © 2020 Artalinna :

This disc shows Fauré at his most explorative and expansive best, beyond the realms of the early and most well-known works to a deeper and more characteristic sonority. They deserve a wider audience, especially with the expert playing of Matvievskaya.

Copyright © 17 July 2020 Patrick Maxwell,
Buckinghamshire, UK






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