September 17, 2019

As Fresh as Fauré

Gabriel Fauré and Tomoko shared several details in life. Both played the organ for Catholic mass. Both taught piano after than graduated from college. Tomoko enjoys both Romanticism and modernism, which Fauré bridged. And Tomoko performs Fauré’s compositions.

Fauré was born in 1845 in southern France, and was trained in religious music. One of his teachers, Camille Saint-Saëns, introduced Fauré to contemporary music; they stayed friends until Saint-Saëns’ death sixty years later. Saint-Saëns also inspired Fauré to travel abroad, during which time he met Liszt and Wagner. In his turn, decades later, Fauré taught future composers Ravel, Roger-Ducasse and Boulanger among others.

 Fauré started composing under Saint-Saëns but was waylaid by the Franco-Prussian War in which he fought. Not surprisingly, his compositions had a dark hue. Nor did he ever compose for the organ. He mainly wrote for piano, although one of his first masterpieces was a violin sonata. He also created art songs, operas, chamber works, and incidental music for plays. Fauré was considered a modernist with his harmonies, and his composition style maintained a freshness throughout his life.

One of Fauré’s pieces that Tomoko enjoys playing is Sicilienne, which was originally a work for cello and piano and eventually was arranged for a full orchestra as a four-movement suite. This piece, one of his most famous, reflects several of Fauré’s signature stylistic details. He uses modal effects in a mixed major-minor scale, giving rise to medieval-sounding cadences, and his altered chords lead to harmonic ambiguities. The result iss slightly haunting.

Tomoko too maintains a fresh attitude in her teaching and her performance, which keeps her spirit young.

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