Concerto pour violon et orchestre en ré mineur Op. 14
Concerto pour violon et orchestre en ré mineur, op. 14 (1878-79)
(b. Parniers, Département Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, 12 May 1845 — d. Paris, 4 November 1924)
Unlike his chamber music or stage works, Fauré was not exactly blessed by fortune in his large-scale orchestral music. From 1866 to 1873 he worked on a three-movement Suite d’orchestre which he ultimately expanded into a Symphonie en fa consisting of an Allegro, Andante, Gavotte, and Finale. A two-piano version was premièred by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) and Fauré at the Société National de Musique, Paris, on 8 February 1873 (albeit without the Finale), and the orchestral version received its first performance (now complete) on 16 May 1874 under Édouard Colonne (1838-1910). Fauré had cobbled the symphony together from arrangements of unrelated separate pieces, some of much earlier date, and scored them for widely varying forces. The critic Arthur Pougin (1834-1921) had little good to say of the Colonne performance: “M. Gabriel Fauré’s Symphonie was given a quite icy reception. For my part, I found it boring and a bit chilly, and it did not seem exactly to abound in inspiration; but the third movement, the Gavotte, is likeable and pretty in its coloration.” Disappointed at the response, Fauré withdrew his Symphonie en fa (op. 20). Whether he or his widow later destroyed the Finale is a matter of guesswork: all that has survived in score is the opening movement, based on a piano duet of 1864, and the charming Gavotte, for which he drew on a C-sharp minor gavotte composed for the piano in 1869, and which would resurface in revised form in 1919 in the incidental music to Masques et bergamasques (and in the familiar op. 112 Suite based on that score). The Andante survives in Fauré’s arrangement for organ and strings, but his plan to compose a symphony failed in 1874.
The Violin Concerto was composed in 1878-79 for Fauré’s friend Ovide Musin (1854-1929), a leading figure of the Franco-Flemish school of violin playing (alongside Ysaÿe). At first he failed to complete it, leaving the sketches of the finale unfinished. The second movement, Andante, seems to have originated first, and was premièred in a piano version by Musin and André Messager (1853-1929) at the Société National de Musique, Paris, on 28 December 1878. The first two movements (Allegro and Andante), now complete, were premièred at the same location by Musin under the baton of Édouard Colonne on 12 April 1880. This performance, too, was not particularly successful: only the Berceuse (op. 16), which Fauré wrote for violin and piano at the same time, independently of the op. 14 concerto, was widely acclaimed and published by Hamelle in 1880. The score and parts of the concerto’s Andante are lost, but Fauré apparently reused the music in 1897 in his Andante for violin and piano (op. 75). Only the opening Allegro has survived in manuscript; it appeared in print for the first time in an edition by Pietro Spada, issued by the Rome publishers Boccaccini & Spada in 1981. The present volume faithfully reproduces that first edition of the Allegro in full score.
Incidentally, Fauré’s next attempt to compose a symphony was likewise dogged by ill fortune. The Symphonie en ré mineur (op. 40), composed in 1883-84 with the movements Allegro deciso, Andante, and Finale, was premièred by the orchestra of the Concerts Colonne under Édouard Colonne at the Société National de Musique on 15 March 1885 and repeated in Anvers on 14 October 1885 under the baton of Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931). Again disappointed by the lukewarm reception, Fauré withdrew the work, allowing only the Andante to be performed once again (in the Concerts Lamoureux, Paris, on 23 May 1889). He then destroyed the symphony, preserving only the first violin part of its three movements in order to reuse the splendid theme of the Andante in the marvelous slow movement of his Second Sonata for Violin and Piano of 1916 (op. 108) and elements from the introductory Allegro deciso in the opening movement of his First Sonata for Cello and Piano of 1917 (op. 109).
No such honors befell the Violin Concerto. The sole surviving movement, the Allegro, displays Fauré’s well-known qualities, although the orchestration cannot be called particularly inspired or sophisticated. Nonetheless, ever since its publication in Spada’s 1981 edition it has been heard frequently in concert and released on several recordings.
Translation: Bradford Robinson
For performance materials please contact the publisher Boccaccini & Spada, Albano Laziale.
Violin & Orchestra
160 x 240 mm