Piano Quintet No. 1 in D minor Op.89

Composer: Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)
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Composer: Gabriel Fauré (b. 1845 - d. 1924)

Performance date: 05/07/2019

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Duration: 00:34:32

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Piano Quartet/Piano Quintet

Artists: Quatuor Zaïde (David Haroutunian [violin], Leslie Boulin Raulet [violin] Sarah Chenaf [viola] Juliette Salmona [cello]) - [quartet]
Finghin Collins - [piano]

Quatuor Zaïde

David Haroutunian, Leslie Boulin Raulet [violins]

Sarah Chenaf [viola], Juliette Salmona [cello]

Finghin Collins [piano]


Gabriel Fauré [1845-1924]


Piano Quintet No.1 in D minor Op.89 [1887-1905]

1. Molto moderato

2. Adagio

3. Allegretto moderato


There are few chamber works that open more seductively than this magical quintet. It is a memorable passage with its quietly rippling arpeggios over which the strings enter with their beguiling melody. Fauré gave us the gift of a seemingly inexhaustible profusion of effortlessly spontaneous chamber music, but it cost him years of trouble to perfect. He began the first sketches in 1887 but set it aside for the Verlaine cycles, which conjure up other strange enchantments. He tried again in1896 and finally worked through the summer holidays 1903 to 1905 before he was happy. The Quintet’s restrained beauty belies the immense labour it cost the composer.


Fauré’s instrumental language is that of seamless flow rather than of dramatic interruption. Classical structure is satisfyingly in place but themes evolve into each other rather than supplant each other. His attitude to the piano differs notably from other pianist-composers. It is mainly through the understatement of the fastidiously crafted piano part that he manages to unify the string and keyboard texture. The combination of natural melody and harmonic richness brings us music by turns passionate, ethereal and introspective.


The first-movement Molto moderato laces the ethereality of the opening with the addition of a second and, eventually, a third theme that do not so much contrast with as complement the first theme to elaborate a spellbinding story. The spell continues in the great central Adagio with a softly spoken berceuse-like melody that gradually raises the temperature to a note of quiet passion. This grows in intensity as a second idea is taken up by the dream-like procession, the great arc of melody seemingly unbroken.


The Finale is a light-hearted Rondo whose song-like theme lights up the nocturnal dreams with the radiance of morning. The piano introduces the all-encompassing refrain, whose many returns dominate the movement with its sunny mood. There are diversions into the minor to add substance to the joyful progression and the coda accelerates delightfully to bring this delicious quintet to a close.

Francis Humphrys