For many listeners, the keyboard works of Gabriel Fauré epitomize French music of the fin de siècle, typically because its languorous melodies and subtle harmonies are at times evocative of late Romantic parlor music. Yet Angela Hewitt defends Fauré's piano music from such a superficial judgment, demonstrating that it is much more substantial in content than the conventional piano pieces of the time, and that the difficulties one encounters in his music are akin to the complexities in Bach. Hewitt's polished performances of the Thème et variations, two Valses-caprices, three Nocturnes, and the Ballade are proof of her longtime commitment to this music, and her penetrating insights into Fauré's expressions and technical artistry reveal levels of inventiveness that are often missed in less competent performances. Of course, having played Fauré for most of her life, Hewitt has intimate knowledge of the music, and her sensitivity and control communicate precisely the effects she wishes, so the music never seems sloppily sentimental or vaguely sketched. Instead, one is reminded at times of her crisp interpretations of Bach, especially at points where the chromatic counterpoint and cadences almost approach Baroque style. But Hewitt lets the music have full expression, so the emotions and colors that Fauré intended come across with poetic elegance, and Hewitt proves herself a true authority on this composer's music. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Thème et variations, Op. 73|