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 […]

Requiem: Requiescat in pace?

Unusually, it’s the pace (peace) word that’s predominant in Fauré’s setting of the Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. Many composers – Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, to name but the most famous – seem to have taken a certain grisly and theatrical delight in portraying the terrors of the Day of Judgement as depicted in the […]