Welcome to the Inside Chamber Music Podcast presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. I'm Bruce Adolphe, Resident Lecturer at CMS, where I started the lecture series in 1992. In 2011, we began livestreaming the lectures on our website. The audio for this podcast comes from the ever growing archive of videos made available live and on demand ChamberMusicSociety.org.
We look at the music from a compositional perspective and find parallels in novels, plays and poetry. Plus, we explore historical context and with live musicians in the studio during the lectures, we experiment with performance issues. Today's Inside Chamber Music podcast was recorded on Wednesday, December eight, 2021. It features Fauré's Quartet Number Two in G Minor for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello Opus 45.
Played by Michael Stephen Brown, piano, Danbi Um, violin, Matthew Lipman, viola and Nicholas Canellakis, cello. Hello and welcome to the Rose studio for another Inside Chamber Music. Today we're going to look at the first movement of Fauré's Piano Quartet in G Minor, Opus 45. Fauré wrote a lot about music as well as music. And one of the things he said is that real music is the sincerest translation of a personality.
Real music is the sincerest translation of a personality. Now, we could just quote that and think of it as poetic and ignore it. But what if we take that very seriously? Because he also wrote about sincerity a lot and, in many cases, said that music is either a translation or some kind of putting forth of who you really are.
Who is inside you? The composer. So if we take that seriously as a way of understanding his music, we wouldn't be the only people to do that. Because Marcel Proust had a very clear idea of Fauré and he said that Fauré was a lover of women and that all his music is about that passion. Now, he wasn't a musician, but he was a very astute artist, writer, and listener to music.Fauré
So let's take this seriously. Translation of personality. First, we need to know something about his life and how he behaved. And then we'll see if the music that he wrote is, in fact, a translation of that in some way. Now, I'm not going to insist that it is, but I want to examine the question, because he seemed to think that it was.
So let's take a look at his life and his behavior so we can examine the music in that light. Fauré, from age 9 to 20 was in a boarding school. When his parents realized how talented he was musically, they sent him to this school for religious music training to become an organist at a church. It was a boarding school that wasn't that much fun to live in apparently.
He described it, and others described it, as having not such great accommodations and the food not being enough. They weren't even allowed out more than once a week from this building. And there were 15 pianos in a room and all of the students practiced on those pianos at the same time. The great teachers were there, though such a Saint-Saëns who was very helpful to Fauré.
But before I get into the music. So he was without his family basically all year long from age 9 to 20. So there's something there that we'll hold onto. Then, as a young man, he falls passionately in love with Marianne Viardot. Now the name may be familiar to you, Viardot, because Marianne's mother was Pauline Viardot, who was a famous singer and a pianist and composer, and her sister was Malibran, a very famous singer as well.
And her parents were both famous singers. So Marianne Viardot was a young woman, much younger than Fauré. He proposed to her, and she had a lot of pressure on her to accept him. But she ended up by calling it off because she was afraid of his passion and he was too much older. And she felt that she had been pressured by her family and the musical connections to marry Fauré.
So she called it off. So now we have a guy who's separated from his family for 11 years, crucial years, then is turned down after a proposal of marriage. What does he do next? Well, he decides to go for an arranged marriage at age 40 because he feels like he should be married. Everyone is telling him, "You should be married."
And so his friend, Marguerite Baugnies puts three names in a hat. And each of the names of these women, the last name started with the letter F. Like Fauré. And he put his hand in the hat and he pulled out the name Marie Frémiet. The daughter of a famous sculptor. So what did he do? He married Marie Frémiet.
It was an arranged marriage. They hardly knew each other. There was a little bit of visiting. Very, very old world. Nothing like the passionate person he was. They had two sons. One became a biographer of Fauré and one became a very important biologist. But this arranged marriage was not satisfying to this very passionate person who had been deprived of several things and just wouldn't go any further.
He wasn't going to have the boarding school and then the rejection and then the arranged marriage be his life. So he had quite a few affairs. The most famous ones include Emma Bardac, who was married at the time and Fauré was married to Marie Frémiet. They had an intense affair. People think that her daughter, Dolly, might have been his, but that seems to be not true.
He wrote a piece about it called Dolly. She eventually left her husband, but not for Fauré She left her husband for Debussy. Well, then another affair was with a young woman who was British. She was a pianist and composer who left her husband to follow Fauré all over France, named Adela Maddison. And then the most extreme relationship, still married, by the way, to Marie Frémiet, that Fauré had was with Marguerite Hasselmans.
This relationship began in 1900 and lasted until 1924. During those 24 years, she accompanied him on vacations. She went with him to the south of France and to Switzerland. She really was like his wife, except he was still married to his wife and he wrote her a lot of letters. So his relationships were complex and he always went home.
But strayed a lot and was always flirting not only with those women, but with everybody. For example, he was a huge flirt with Winnaretta Singer who was also known as the Princesse de Polignac. This was an American heiress. Her father was Isaac Singer, invented the sewing machine. She was married to first one prince, and then another prince.
And the Prince de Polignac, who was a very mediocre composer, well, the two of them had huge salons where Fauré could meet Flaubert and Proust and all the other composers of that time, and many painters. And so it was a very important relationship, but it was more than that because Fauré was infatuated with her, too. He seemed to be infatuated with almost every woman he met.
Now, one of the things he wrote to her is, "Write. Write. Write. I beseech you. Your every word becomes a note of music." Okay. Remember that. Your every word becomes a note of music. Doesn't that sound a little bit like translating the personality into music? In this case, he's taking what she writes, his feelings, and they become music.
Well, in order for him to take flirtation, infidelities, but also loyalty to his wife, whom he never divorced, and all these other detachments and breaks that he had in his life, in order to translate that into music, he had to have the vocabulary and the technique to do that. He had that. Where did he learn it? Ironically, he learned it at the boarding school, the Niedermayer school, because they did not teach music there the same way as it was taught anywhere else in France or Europe, for that matter.
The Niedermayer approach, I'll give you a little example at the moment, included all the ancient modes, the church modes and major and minor, as if it were one continuum. That became a way of writing in the 20th century. But it was not at all a style when Fauré was young. In fact, it contributed through Fauré to the music of Debussy and quite a few others.
So what I mean by that is if you have a note G, you have the G major scale. (music) G minor scale. Other harmonic, minor scale here. And you could have the Lydian scale or you could have the Phrygian scale. You can have a mixolydian scale. And all of these were considered one continuum. So that meant that this chord, G major and G minor and G diminished.
And A-flat and B-flat minor, these were all part of one large modal continuum. That's a very different way of thinking, but there's more to it. Niedermayer's approach to Harmony, which was codified in a book by a man named Lefevre, looked at each chord as a springboard for every harmony that could possibly come from it. So, for example, let's go back to G major.
You can sharp the fifth. Now, in other schools of thought, that means you're referring to another key or it's a chromatic passing tone or maybe another key would... But in this case, it's just an acceptable harmony on its own and it's consonant. But you could also sharp the fifth and flat the third. That's an E-flat major chord. Well, in every other school of thought, that chord is an inversion of E-flat major.
But for Fauré at the Niedermayer School, it was not. It was a G chord with a lower third and a sharp fifth, which meant that this very, at that time, progressive, innovative way of listening to music or writing music was normal for all the students in the school. Let's keep going. I could sharp the fifth and flat the G.
I have a B major chord now, but it's not B major. It's a lowered tonic, a third and a sharp fifth. All these permutations were thought of as one way of looking at chords on the note G. Ironically, this relates to music theory that goes way back before Rameau, the French composer who put it in the way we think now, reorganized music so that we thought of G major, no matter what position it is in, is G major and that this is E-flat, but pre Rameau there was this feeling that you were building up from a baseline.
What was brought to Fauré's mind was this flexible, always changing, not very stable sense of tonality as something that was always in flux that could change easily. You could be, let's say, infatuated with another key. You could flirt with another tonality and come right back. You could stray from the home key and it all made sense and come back. So that his musical vocabulary was exactly like his music.
Now, I want to read to you a letter which he wrote, which gives you the sense of the out of control passion that this man had, almost all the time it seems. Obviously not when he was the director of the conservatoire. I mean, he was able to put on the right face, but his letters are amazingly passionate. And then when we get to the music, think of this.
He's writing to a friend about Winnaretta singer, The Princess, and he's referring to his wife, Marie. He writes "There is no word to express the extent of the admiration and almost something more. Ouch," he writes. "Ouch." Okay. In French. "And almost something more. Ouch. That I feel for our adorable hostess. A parentheses at this point.
But you must swear not to give me away. Not that it makes any difference. Since we are going home soon, it will all blow over. But this, I repeat, is a crisis. The last one, of course, and I have a feeling that as soon as I step into the train and go home, it will all blow over and I shall be left with nothing but great amazement.
I love Marie," his wife. "I promise you, I love Marie. And I know of no one equal to her. Don't worry. This is nothing. But it's true what you told me. Our princess is exquisite on closer acquaintance. She's so original in everything she does. With a real aptitude for so many intelligent things and so charmingly good humored and so kind."
It goes on and on. This is typical of Fauré. So, let's listen to the beginning of this quartet and think of the passion. And we'll also see in just a moment not only the passion, but the Niedermayer school. (music) Thank you. Yes, it's very passionate music. Now, before I even look at the harmony with you from the Niedermayer school point of view, the tune itself is off balance.
It's rhythmically in the wrong place and then it gets into the right place. It's off balance the way when someone is infatuated with someone, it's off balance. You could fall over. I mean, there's this feeling of the beats are in the wrong place. The tune, if you're not a musician looking at the music, you hear it as one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.
Right? Could we have just strings just play that? (music) Okay. Thank you. But in fact, it's like this. One, two, three, four. One, two. See, the. The beat comes in the wrong place, and he knows what he's doing because he fixes it and changes it and moves it around by giving a different, upbeat. For example, the next time we hear it, it goes (music) instead of (music) (singing)
He gives us a little rest and an eighth pick up instead of a quarter pick up, and that puts the tune in the right place. But the fact that he puts it in the wrong place on purpose is a deliberate putting off of the balance of the piece right from the very beginning. Now, also, the Niedermayer School would have helped with that too, because Fauré had to study, at the Niedermayer School, Gregorian chant a lot.
And so Gregorian chant doesn't work with time signatures. Those chants existed way before music notation had time signatures in Europe. And so what you had instead was a phrase. And the phrase was built on words. (singing) is a phrase. And he could take that phrase if it were Gregorian and just stick it anywhere within the bar lines.
Now, let's think metaphorically for a moment. The bar lines are like a key in that they restrain activity. They define rhythmic shapes. Bar lines, they can be helpful, but they can also be very problematic. And Fauré uses the problem of the bar working off the bar in a way, Brahms did this too, but in a very different way.
But of course they're contemporaries and they have a great deal in common, but Fauré's way of doing it is to have a passionate off balance quality. Now, we've got that with the tune. Look at the harmony here. Let's just hear the piano alone. But I'll introduce this a little bit. We have a pedal point. (music) This D is there for a long time.
And we're in G minor.o the D is the dominant and what we expect it to do and it will eventually do is resolve. But the tension of this D goes on and on and on. And while we have this tension, practically every kind of permutation of a chord over this D is hurt. We have, it starts with the actual key, G minor, the dominant, and it starts to become... You can hear that it's chromatic and it's just moving.
The D stays there as it's stretching and pulling away from the D, but then we get new chords and if I put them up here that D is still there. All of those chords as dramatic and chromatic and powerful as they are were kind of a normal idea for someone coming from the Niedermayer School. Let's face it, though, Fauré was the only graduate of the Nightmare School to become a great composer and a famous musician like that.
But they all learned the same things. They just didn't use it very well. So for example, we have D major and then at one point we have an E dominant seventh. It has a name, it has a function. But here it's only function really is to be dissonant over the D just like this A-flat and the B minor.
And all of that comes from the Niedermayer idea. Here's D Major. Now I have an augmented chord. Now I have a B-flat chord, but it's still D. Now I can move up. Now I have a, what we would call an E dominant chord, but for Fauré it is just a highly chromatically altered version of D. It's going to come back and they're not exactly passing tones because for Fauré's mind they are permutations. And so it gives it this tremendous tension and drive all the way through.
So then it finally does arrive at G minor and we get the same idea, but without the pedal. And there's a wonderful moment where things calm down a little bit and we get the same tune. (singing) with a pick up 1 to 3. (singing) But because of the harmonies and the notes he chooses, it works completely differently.
We have (music) one, two, three, four, one, two. Now it does feel like a fourth B and a down B because the chords are five one. So it takes a while to get to that. But he knows exactly what he's doing because he makes you want to put those beats in the right place, to put those chords in their functioning order.
But first you have to deal with the passion that is chromatic, that is nonfunctioning, that is all about permutation and tension. It resolves and it keeps going and eventually you get something like that only in passing. All of the more beautiful, simple progressions that he has in this piece just pass right by. They're flirtations. All right. So let's hear from the very beginning now, all the way to the second theme, which is this thing.
Well, you know what it is. Start right before that. (music) Great. Alright. And now we get a second theme, which is very similar to the first theme. It has a pick up. And instead of (singing) it has an eighth note pick up. So we feel the beat more clearly. And it's not an octave anymore and it turns into something else.
Well, of course, that's a technique that every composer in the 19th century was using. It was typical also in the 18th century of taking a theme and transforming it rhythmically and then accompanying it differently. So this is not that strange, but what we do get is a modal sense of not major and not minor. Because if we start here, we move to C major.
We just had a cadence on E-flat. He moves through G minor to C major. Again, there's no explanation necessary because for Fauré, the flexibility of modes moving from one to another is not unusual. That's how he learned music. So one of the things that makes it possible for him to have been such a great composer is that he didn't have to invent new ideas, he didn't have to innovate.
He already was doing that as a student. It was just the way music was taught. And so you have a different kind of composer in Fauré, for example, than you have in Debussy. Debussy was a conscious innovator, deliberately changing ideas about music, challenging harmonic concepts, structural concepts, melodic ideas, consciously and deliberately as an adult. Fauré just let his heart sing.
That's a quote of Mio, who put it perfectly. He just had, from his childhood, the training that made it possible to shift modes and do chromatic harmonic, extraordinary gestures and daring harmonic passages that just come directly from his subconscious practically. Now, one of the reasons they thought of music that way I should as a parentheses, is that they were learning to be church organists, and Fauré did work as a church organist in some of the greatest churches in Paris, but he didn't really like that.
That's not what he wanted, and he backed off from it eventually. But a church organist has to do a lot of improvization and the typical kind of improvization that a church organist would do is to move in the church modes with some chromatic harmony that made it seem more modern, and they basically let their hands wander over the keys moving from mode to mode so that there was the possibility of this kind of harmonic writing from the school into the church, in the organ world of improvization.
But the difference is the organizational mind and the personality to do the composition, which most of his contemporaries did not have. Was Niedermayer a good composer, the guy who thought of this? Not really. In fact, he was probably terrible and I say that because I found one reference to him that surprised me in a journal of Delacroix, the painter.
I was reading this because, as you may know, I gave a lecture on Chopin, and Delacroix was a very close friend of Chopin, although I didn't mention that in the lecture. So I was reading Delacroix's journal and I came across this. He had heard at Chopin's House a little concert where a Polish countess named Delfina Potocka, who was also a singer, sang some songs by La Martin and Delacroix wrote this.
"She sang La Lac by La Martine. The one with Niedermayer's vulgar and pretentious setting." And then he says, "I had that accursed tune on the brain for the last two days." So we have Proust describing the music of Fauré as being all about his passion for women. And we have a painter, Delacroix, saying that Niedermayer was vulgar and pretentious.
Just keep those two things for yourself. Now, let's go on to another phrase in this piece. Harmonically, there are quite a few phrases that are just screaming Niedermayer School, but nobody else did these things this way. Although Debussy learned a lot of things from Fauré. He was not Fauré's student. Ravel was Fauré's student. Boulanger was Fauré's student.
But Debussy was not. But he learned a lot from his music, and he even quotes some Fauré in some of his music because he really was indebted to some of this harmonic thinking that he didn't know from training. He took it from the music around him and from his imagination. But for example, there's this chord progression.
It doesn't go anywhere and it has. (music) I mention that because it's extremely French and it's also very Niedermayer. The first chord can be thought of several ways. It could be thought of as whole tones. You skip two whole towns and you get that chord, but that's probably not what Fauré was thinking. He was thinking with a lowered fifth. You could sharp the fifth.
That's also a very romantic chord. A dominant seventh with a sharp fifth is very German. If you lower the fifth for some reason it's more French and then he adds a ninth one three lowered five, seven, nine. It doesn't go anywhere or do anything. And then he lowers this third. So he has already, in his mind, lowered the fifth.
Now he's lowered to third. And we get another perfectly beautiful chord. It's called a half diminished chord in English. But again, these two chords are just back and forth, rocking back and forth, something Debussy took from Fauré. Chords that are beautiful because of their color and their sonority, not because of what they do, not because of how they function.
They pass by. A beautiful sonority passing by. What's her name again? I just wanted to call her. That's Fauré. Let's hear that passage. Perhaps at bar 32? (music) Okay, great. Thank you. So now we don't want to get too technical. All I'm trying to suggest is that Fauré was right. That he was translating his personality and that if you listen with the idea not all the technical language, unless you're a musician and get it, that's fine.
But if you don't, the idea that every chord can be changed slightly to become some other color, maybe it suggests another key. Maybe it suggests another mode. But it doesn't matter because he's going to move on. It's just going to linger there long enough for it to be beautiful. Move on, go through another key and another key. He doesn't change keys as often as it sounds.
He flirts with the keys. There's a difference between changing the key and actually establishing the key as a new structure, as a new environment and just floating past the key. And there's a word in musical theory for that. It's called tonicization. And it's a simple idea. The tonic is the home key. The tone becomes the tonic, the home tone.
So if you are in the tonic, you're in the key. But if you tonicize another note, it feels like you're in that key, but you're not because you don't stay there long enough. You don't do enough music in that key. You don't get all the harmonies that would establish that key. So, for example, it's like going to another apartment and coming home and not moving in.
You see? Fauré was always visiting other apartments but not moving it. Even his 24 year relationship with Margaruite Hasselmans was, he didn't move in with her, but he set her up in an apartment and he paid for everything and he, what was sometimes called a kept woman, a terrible phrase, but that was their relationship. And he went on vacations with her, which is still not being in the key.
It's still atonicization because they would arrive in different places. But he always went home to Marie Frémiet. So this music actually has that written all over it. For example, here's a passage, how about letter B? Which is 40 supposedly. (music) Thank you. Thank you. Now, I hope you're beginning to hear what I'm talking about, but I'm going to demonstrate this a little more clearly right there.
There are so many spots, so I'm just going to pick one, which is this chord. The violin does this and you're actually expecting this. That's what you would normally have. But what you get is (music) Now the chords at this point are functioning. That's functioning tonality. We have a B-flat seven going to an E-flat seven. That's perfectly normal. The first strange thing is that the note in the violin, the melody note way up on top, instead of moving to the new chord stays where it is forming a ninth.
By ninth, remember, one, three, five, seven, nine. So the nine is far from the tonic of the chord, the root of the chord. But that's not the main thing. Then the violin does this right? (music) So the harmony should be either this or this or this. But actually what you get is this. He's sharped everything. The violin plays an A-flat. Everybody else is in sharps.
The viola has the note G sharp, do you not? I do. I rest my case. Yes. The A-flat is the resolution of the violin phrase, but the G sharp is the new. The new context, the new key that it lands on. This is an inharmonic. That's the technical word. An inharmonic relationship. It simply means that this note on the keyboard can be an A-flat written as an A-flat or a G sharp.
In string instruments, they can actually sound quite different. Not on the piano, but the main thing is that the harmony takes what would have been the normal tonic note of the, the root of the next chord in its simplest version or in a slightly different version or even any of these. But he doesn't want to do that. It's too ordinary. So he makes it the ninth, and then it turns out not to be the ninth because he changes the chord again.
And it's, for a brief moment, it's in another mode. It's in the Lydian mode. Can you stand it? I mean, it's really it's incredible. It is because you have a dominant, the note stays, it becomes the ninth, it comes down the scale and then it becomes the ninth in a new key. But that gets transformed briefly into the Lydian mode.
And then he does it again. Let's hear that again. And as I say, you don't need to follow all the technical language. I'm happy if you do, but it's the idea. The idea is that the Nidermeyer School gave him the vocabulary, the technique, the syntax to be so flexible that modes and scales and chords could just intertwine with each other.
He could flirt with keys, he could visit, but not stay in a harmony and could change a harmony while it's happening. It just changes all the time, just like the letters that he writes. In fact, after this passage, I'll read you another quote that tells you exactly what I'm talking about. (music) Thank you. Thank you. I hope you're hearing that.
And you probably are hearing a little Debussy in your mind. But it isn't. It's Fauré. Debussy got some of his ideas from Fauré, but he abstracted them. He didn't put them in a structure within a key. And I won't get into Debussy's personal life, which is pretty intense. They did share Emma Bardac. I hate to say it that way, but I mean, she was married, had an affair while she was married to Fauré, who was married.
They broke up and then she had an affair with Debussy, who was married. She left her husband for Debussy and they did get married because he left his wife. But Debussy's sense of tonality was quite different. It was something I won't get into it here because this is a Fauré lecture. But he did get a lot of this ephemeral, changeable, always in flux concept from Fauré.
And then he isolated those ideas and turned them his own and went much, much further with the the concept of abstracted tonality. So here's a letter from Winneretta Singer who is also the Princesse de Poulenac and she is writing about Fauré to one of her friends and think of the music when you hear this. "Although he was sensitive and sentimental, he was easily carried away by new affections and was not always a faithful friend and not always a perfect friend.
Being too much interested in new ties to trouble, much about his old ties." Well, that may be a comment about his life, but it's also a description of how his music works. The keys, the modes. They just appear and disappear and one flows into the next. You know, there's a beautiful moment, let's skip all the way to bar 71, which you have... (music)
And these chords. Here, let's hear a little bit of that. And the reason we want to hear it is this is in the mixolydian mode. He has not used it yet. He's used major and minor and he's used lots of chromatic modes. He's used the Lydian mode. Here is the mixolydian mode. (music) All right. And you hear right there, you can hear that it went from a mixolydian mode into a major key.
You can hear that it has a certain freshness about it. Now let's look at another passage where there are other modes. We're going to go to measure 100 and here in the baseline we have the whole tone scale. (music) And then it disappears and something new happens. So let's first hear that music with just the whole tone scale driving the music and the harmony. (music) Right there we stopped.
No more whole tones. Something else has happened and we're about to hear music that, at first, is not clear in terms of key at all. We have F Sharp major and then the piano is playing F Sharp minor, but the violin gives us one more note, which changes that harmony into, technically speaking, it's called a half diminished chord.
In jazz, it's called a minor with a sixth, added sixth. And what key is this in? It's modal. Now we're in the Dorian mode. So we've heard the Lydian mode, the mixolydian mode, the Dorian mode and major and minor and all of these changing, fluctuating, chromatic harmonies. Let's hear this very beautiful passage. Actually, one of the great things about this passage is that the Dorian mode is a simple mode.
It's an early church mode. Basically it's natural minor with a raised sixth. Sounds like this. (music) After all this passionate chromaticism, this changing and unpredictable sense of mode and key, the Dorian mode feels almost pastoral. And so it shimmers and it's luminescently beautiful. Let's hear that passage starting right where it begins. (music)
Okay. Yes, yes.
Thank you. I had to stop because we're no longer in the Dorian mode. You can feel the shift, right? You can feel the simplicity of the Dorian mode. And then what he does, he's been in the Dorian mode. And then this C-sharp is redefined in a new context, in a major key. And so he's really only visiting the Dorian mode to say hello quickly.
I got to go. It's beautiful. I love it here, but I have to get to E major. So he does and he moves to E Major. And remember that because I will refer to this kind of idea as described by Proust in great detail about Fauré in a moment. Then very soon we get another amazing harmonic moment.
He's in C-sharp Minor chord. Now remember to Fauré's C-sharp C natural, major, minor, it's all one thing. So he drops into this C-sharp minor, he keeps two of those notes and changes everything else around it. And the feeling of that is a dominant seventh, but with a sharped fifth, which should resolve to f. But what happens is the F is in the bass, but on top. (music)
This is extraordinary thinking. He goes from C-sharp minor, keeps two common tones because that's very Niedermayer and it expresses what he's thinking, changes the context of these two notes, and resolves only the bass note, and gives us these upper partials, which, if you take f major, they're up there. So he's thinking maybe like an organist registration, those chords, those are overtones ringing up there.
And that means that not only did Debussy take from this, but so did Messiaen. Fauré, without trying to be innovative, without trying to be progressive or new, did all kinds of new things. It was important to him that he did new things, but he didn't make it a goal of his technique. It was not a strategy like it was with Debussy or with Messiaen where it was a strategy.
With him, he just hoped that something would occur to him. That as he translated his feelings into music, he might do something new. And he wrote a lot about that. So let's hear that passage starting right on 116 and we'll play for a little while after. (music)
All right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
It's hard to stop. I mean, it's hard to stop playing and it's hard for me to stop you. Now, I could keep going through every passage in this piece, in this movement, because it's always there, all of these ideas. But that would be redundant. And you don't need to have every single thing set up for you. I think we have the the essential aspects of this, but the ending is extremely strange and beautiful.
First of all, we get it at bar 211. We get this baseline at first. What, has Fauré become ordinary here? He's just writing a G major chord. But of course what is happening above it. So this E-flat other composers might describe that is coming from C minor, but it's not for Fauré. It's just G major. And that raised fifth.
Which, he doesn't write that way. But as a raised fifth it's just g in flux. It's a wandering fifth. Come on back, fifth, get back here. And then we get this. (music) There are several things happening. For one, another form of G is here because he adds the seventh and it resolves to an E major chord. And if he was going to do the most ordinary thing, the circle of fifths he could right now because he goes E to A, he could go to D and end on G.
But he knows that if he goes from E to A and skips the D, in other words, he goes like this. (music) So the cadence in a traditional sense, he's skipping the dominant chord. He's going from E down a fifth to A down a fifth to D, no. Skip it. Down a fifth to G. And that gives him the possibility of the whole tone scale in the bass.
So it becomes a unique and very French cadence based on the idea of leaving off the most obvious choice. The dominant. It's gone. We started with this giant dominant pedal and we end with the dominant disappearing entirely. Well, I'd like to end by reading a few quotes for you. Here's a description by Proust. It's of a fictional composer that everyone knows is Fauré, but he's describing not the composer, but a tune by Fauré. "Suddenly, having reached a certain point from which he was preparing to follow it.
After a momentary pause, abruptly, it changed direction and in a fresh movement, more rapid, fragile, melancholy, incessant, sweet. It bore him off with it toward new vistas." Great description of any melody by Fauré. Melancholy, incessant, sweet, changing, rapid and fragile. And it bore him off toward new vistas. But the last quote will Fauré for himself. He said, "The desire for non-existent things, that is the domain of music."
Thank you. (music) We hope you enjoyed the podcast. Visit ChamberMusicSociety.org to watch videos of these lectures as well as masterclasses and concert performances. And while you're there, check out the calendar of upcoming Chamber Music Society events in New York and around the world. See you next time.