Lazy bones?

There are people who, through some flaw or other in their personality, acquire a bad reputation, a reputation which then proceeds to dog them throughout history to the detriment of several other sterling qualities: one such is poor Anatoly Lyadov. He wasn’t poor, not in the pecuniary sense, anyway. A scion of a well-to-do St.Petersburg […]

The thief of time?

No, it’s not procrastination I’m thinking of, it’s Rachmaninoff. Tempo rubato translates as ‘robbed or stolen time’ and is the performance practice of slowing down or speeding up a phrase in music, mostly without any indication from the composer that such tempo alterations are required.  For the classically minded it’s known (pejoratively) as ‘pulling the […]

Sonate pour piano?

Can you think of a famous late nineteenth/early twentieth century French piano sonata? If you drew a blank, don’t worry, it’s not all that surprising – the list of composers who didn’t write one reads like a Who’s-Who of French music of the fin de siècle: Gounod, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, Fauré, Chausson, Debussy, Satie, Ravel […]

Nocturnes vs. Barcarolles

Solo piano music forms a large part of Fauré’s output. And, while there are pieces with such titles as ‘impromptu’ and ‘valse-caprice’, the greatest body of work (26 opuses in all) is collected together under two headings: Nocturnes and Barcarolles. The initial stimulus for these is clearly derived from Chopin, as is the musical style […]