Third in a Fauré series remastered by Peter Harrison
Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 115
This XR-remastered recording is available in mono and Ambient Stereo. For more information on Ambient Stereo click here.
Notes on the restoration: When I'm considering a recording for restoration, I usually check the contemporary reviews and ratings to see how it was judged at the time of its original release. In the case of this pancake Nixa disc, I wonder what it was they reviewed, and on what equipment? For, frankly, the LP was very rough. Yet this wasn't mentioned. Was it just so common in 1953 as to be not worth mentioning?
For example, the most obvious fault, not remarked on at the time, was a strong hum: not just 50Hz or 60Hz, but both! (Either is all too common, but both? - it's the first time I've encountered this. Not mentioned in the reviews.)
After double de-humming and heavy doses of the usual restoration medicine (end of side 1 particularly bad), the underlying recording was revealed. In all their horror were nasty shrieky strings and a piano swathed in cotton-wool and apparently in a different studio. Minor miracles were achieved jointly by Andrew Rose and self to resolve this and the result, after many, many hours of work and a final touch of Ambient Stereo, is what you'll hear here. Amazingly a very nice performance has finally been revealed, perhaps for the first time since it left the studio!
Peter M Harrison
Ray Lev (May 8, 1912 – May 20, 1968) was an American classical pianist. One year after her birth in Rostov na Donau, Russia, her father, a synagogue cantor, and mother, a concert singer, brought her to the United States.
Lev’s early piano studies were with Waiter Ruel Cowles in New Haven, Connecticut and Gaston Déthier in New York. She made her debut at age 17 in England performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 under Sir Landon Ronald. After winning the American Matthay Prize and the Philharmonic Symphony Scholarship, she studied with Tobias Matthay in England from 1930 to 1933. Thereafter, Lev returned to the United States, where she made her New York debut in 1934 with the National Orchestral Association.
Her annual recitals in Carnegie Hall were generally sold out; she also toured successfully in Europe, the United States, and Canada and performed on radio network broadcasts. Although Lev gave two command performances in London, England, performed for US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and earned seven citations for patriotic service by extensively performing for US and allied armed forces during World War II, in 1950 she had the dubious distinction of being the sole classical pianist named in the Red Channels list of alleged communist sympathizers during the American Red Scare. Little information about her appears thereafter, and her name is largely forgotten today.
After World War II, Lev began making phonograph records for the Concert Hall Society label, first on 78 RPM disks and then on LPs. She set down some adventurous literature for the day, including Schubert’s Piano Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (Reliquie) with the completion by Ernst Krenek, probably otherwise represented on records in this form only by the slightly later performance of Friedrich Wührer on Vox. Her recording has not appeared on compact disc, although Wührer's has received a private CD release copied from LP. Lev’s records that have achieved CD reissue include her 1946 account of Bach’s Concerto No. 5 in D minor after Vivaldi’s op. 3, no. 11, BWV 596, in her own transcription, and a waltz by Sergei Prokofiev, no. 2 from his Music for Children, op. 65.
The Pascal Quartet was a French string quartet musical ensemble which took shape during the early 1940s and emerged after the war to become a leading representative of the French performance tradition. It was named after its founder, the viola player Léon Pascal, and was occasionally termed the Leon Pascal Quartet.
Throughout its recording career during the 1940s and 1950s, the personnel comprised:
1st violin: Jacques Dumont
2nd violin: Maurice Crut
viola: Léon Pascal
violoncello: Robert Salles
During the 1930s Léon Pascal occupied the viola desk in the celebrated Calvet Quartet, with Joseph Calvet, Daniel Guilevitch (i.e. Daniel Guilet of the Beaux Arts Trio) and Paul Mas (cello). Pascal appears in the 1931-1938 recordings made by that ensemble. The recordings of the Pascal Quartet begin before 1945. The quality of the soloists with whom they recorded attest to the standing of the Pascal Quartet. McNaught said of them that 'due praise would mean a further search for words.' Record Year 2 (p.47-48), on the other hand, found many faults with their Beethoven cycle, which others have admired intensely.
(a) Nixa 13 LPs CLP 1201-1213, Issued 1953: Includes op 2 no 3 C major (arrangement of pno sonata) coupled with op 18 no 1 (CLP 1201); Op 18 2 & 3 (CLP 1202); op 18 4 & 5 (CLP 1203); op 18 no 6 & op 95 (CLP 1204); op 59, 1, 2 & 3 (CLP 1205-1207); op 74, (CLP 1208); op 127, 130 & 131 (CLP 1209-1211); op 133 & op 135 (CLP 1212); op 132 (CLP 1213).
(b) Classics Record Library, ?10 LPs, in this form 1957: Includes op 18 nos 1-6 (MAQ 3331-3333), autocoupled; Quartets nos 7, 10 and 11 autocoupled (MAQ 4441-4442) (op 59 2 & 3 presumed on MAQ 4443?); Quartets 12-16 and Grosse Fuge autocoupled (MAQ 5551-5554).
(c) Concert Hall label, 10 LPs "Recorded in France": Includes op 18 1-6 (M (or MMSD) 2041-2043); op 59 1-3 (M 2044-2045); op 74 & op 95 (M 2046); op 127 & op 135 (M 2047); op 130 & Grosse Fuge op 133 (M 2048); op 131 and op 132 (M 2049 & 2050).
Beethoven: Three Quartets for Piano and Strings, WoO 36 (Says Opus 152 on the recording), with Artur Balsam (International Recorded Music Society, Inc. LP IRMS-1215: Concert Hall M 2054).
Beethoven: Quartet op 8 no 3. (1944)
Beethoven: Quintets op 29 and op 104, with Walter Gerhard. (Nixa LP CLP 1214) (1953)
Haydn: Quartet op 76 no 2. (1948)
Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge, Contrapunctus no 1. (1949)
Gabriel Urbain Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist, and teacher. He was the foremost French composer of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers. His harmonic and melodic language affected how harmony was later taught.
Fauré was born in Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, to Toussaint-Honoré Fauré and Marie-Antoinette-Hélène Lalène-Laprade. He was sent to live with a foster-nurse for four years. At the age of nine he was sent to study at the École Niedermeyer, a school which prepared church organists and choir directors in Paris, and continued there for eleven years. He studied with several prominent French musicians, including Camille Saint-Saëns, who introduced him to the music of several contemporary composers, including Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt.
Gabriel Fauré in 1864
In 1870, Fauré enlisted in the army and took part in the action to raise the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. During the Paris Commune he stayed at Rambouillet and in Switzerland, where he taught at the transported École Niedermeyer. When he returned to Paris in October 1871, he was appointed assistant organist at Saint-Sulpice as accompanist to the choir, and became a regular at Saint-Saëns' salon. Here he met many prominent Parisian musicians and with those he met there and at the salon of Pauline Garcia-Viardot he formed the Société Nationale de Musique.
In 1874, Fauré stopped working at Saint-Sulpice and began to fill in at the Église de la Madeleine for Saint-Saëns during his many absences. When Saint-Saëns retired in 1877, Fauré became choirmaster. In the same year he became engaged to Marianne Viardot, daughter of Pauline, but the engagement was later broken off by Marianne. Following this disappointment he travelled to Weimar, where he met Liszt, and Cologne in order to see productions of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Fauré admired Wagner, but was one of very few composers of his generation not to come under his influence.
In 1883, Fauré married Marie Fremiet, with whom he had two sons. In order to support his family Fauré spent most of his time in organising daily services at the Église de la Madeleine and teaching piano and harmony lessons. He only had time to compose during the summers. He earned almost no money from his compositions because his publisher bought them, copyright and all, for 50 francs each. During this period Gabriel Fauré wrote several large scale works, in addition to many piano pieces and songs, but he destroyed many of them after a few performances, only retaining a few movements in order to re-use motives.
During his youth Fauré was very cheerful, but his broken engagement combined with his perceived lack of musical success led to bouts of depression which he described as "spleen". In the 1890s, however, his fortunes reversed somewhat. He had a successful trip to Venice where he met with friends and wrote several works. In 1892, he became the inspector of the music conservatories in the French provinces, which meant he no longer had to teach amateur students. In 1896, he finally became chief organist at the Église de la Madeleine, and also succeeded Jules Massenet as composition instructor at the Conservatoire de Paris. At this particular post he taught many important French composers, including Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger.
From 1903 to 1921, Fauré was a critic for Le Figaro. In 1905, he succeeded Théodore Dubois as director of the Paris Conservatory. He made many changes at the Conservatoire, leading to the resignation of a number of faculty members. This position meant that he was better off in terms of income, and he also became much more widely known as a composer.
Fauré was elected to the Institut de France in 1909, but at the same time he broke with the Société Nationale de Musique, and supported the rogue group which formed out of those ejected from the Société, mainly his own students. During this time Fauré developed ear trouble and gradually lost his hearing. Sound not only became fainter, but it was also distorted, so that pitches on the low and high ends of his hearing sounded like other pitches. He made efforts to conceal his difficulty, but was eventually forced to abandon his teaching position.
His responsibilities at the Conservatoire, combined with his hearing loss, meant that Fauré's output was greatly reduced during this period. During World War I Fauré remained in France. In 1920, at the age of 75, he retired from the Conservatoire mainly due to his increasing deafness. In this year he also received the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'Honneur, an honor rare for a musician. He suffered from poor health, partially brought on by heavy smoking. Despite this, he remained available to young composers, including members of Les Six, who were devoted to him.
Gabriel Fauré died in Paris from pneumonia in 1924. He was given a state funeral at the Église de la Madeleine and is buried in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris.
Gabriel Fauré in 1895
Gabriel Fauré is regarded as the master of the French art song, or mélodie. His works ranged from an early romantic style, when in his early years he emulated the style of Mendelssohn and others, to late 19th century Romantic, and finally to a 20th century aesthetic. His work was based on a strong understanding of harmonic structures which he received at the École Niedermeyer from his harmony teacher Gustave Lefèvre, who wrote the book Traité d'harmonie (Paris, 1889), in which Lefèvre sets forth a harmonic theory which differs significantly from the classical theory of Jean-Philippe Rameau in that seventh and ninth chords are no longer considered dissonant, and the mediant can be altered without changing the mode. In addition, Fauré's understanding of the church modes can be seen in various modal passages in his works, especially in his melodies.
In contrast with his harmonic and melodic style, which pushed the bounds for his time, Fauré's rhythmic motives tended to be subtle and repetitive, with little to break the flow of the line, although he did utilize subtle large scale syncopations, similar to those found in Brahms works. Aaron Copland referred to him as the 'French Brahms'.
Fauré's piano works often use arpeggiated figures with the melody interspersed between the two hands, and include finger substitutions natural for organists. These aspects make them daunting for some pianists, but they are nonetheless central works.
Fauré was a prolific composer, and among the most noteworthy of his works are his Requiem, the opera Pénélope, the orchestral suite Masques et Bergamasques (based on music for a dramatic entertainment, or divertissement comique), and music for Pelléas et Mélisande. He also wrote chamber music; his two piano quartets are particularly well known. Other chamber music includes two piano quintets, two cello sonatas, two violin sonatas, and a number of piano pieces including the Nocturnes. He is also known for his songs, such as Après un rêve, Les roses d'Ispahan, En prière, and several song cycles, including La Bonne Chanson with settings of poems by Verlaine, and L'horizon chimérique.
The Requiem, Op. 48, was not composed to the memory of a specific person but, in Fauré's words, "for the pleasure of it." It was first performed in 1888. Fauré is thought not to have had strong religious beliefs. It has been described as "a lullaby of death". In setting his requiem, he left out the Dies irae, though the reference to the day of judgment appears in the Libera me, which, like Giuseppe Verdi, he added to the normal requiem mass. Several slightly different versions of the Requiem exist, and these have given rise to a number of different recordings. Personal grief may have influenced the composition as it was started after the death of his father, and before it was completed, his mother died as well. The Requiem can thus be seen as an expression of Fauré's personal tragedy written after the death of his parents. The Requiem is also acknowledged as a source of inspiration for the similar setting by Maurice Duruflé.
His music is used in "Act I: Emeralds" of George Balanchine's ballet Jewels (1967).
In the UK, the Berceuse from his Dolly Suite became known to several generations of children when it was used as the closing music for the radio programme Listen with Mother, which ran from 1950 to 1982.