The Raised Fourth
My love of Fauré began much like anyone else's as far as the introduction is concerned: the Réquiem. Two months after I became a member of the Texas Boys Choir, I sang in a performance of it conducted by Roger Wagner. My score, dating from 1965, is a relic for me: my transliteration of the latin is very entertaining (Kee-ree-aye Aye-lay-ee-son).
Fauré provided another first as his Lydia was the first french mélodie that I learned during my freshman year at Peabody. I programed the cycle "Poème d'un jour" for my recital debut at The Phillips Collection in Washington and my New York recital début at Town Hall four years later also contained the late cycle L'Horizon chimérique.
His chamber music came into my life when I sang for three seasons at the Marlboro Music Festival. When I had time off during the day, I would attend rehearsals as page turner, something I really enjoyed doing. Fauré's c minor piano quartet was the first piece to bring me into the world of his music for piano and strings, performed by Kathryn Brown, Isidore Cohen, Christof Hübner and Peter Wiley. Then a violinist asked me to read the first sonata with her. After that, there was no return. Later I discovered the second piano quartet and the rest of his output.
I then thought why not give a recital in New York dedicated to the mélodies and chamber music. When looking for a proper date, I found out that there would be two anniversaries of the composer in one season: the seventieth anniversary of his death on November 4, 1994 and the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of his birth on May 12, 1995. There were seven months in between the two dates, so I proceeded to work for a number of years on an Hommage to Gabriel Fauré. I was able to arrange seven recital programs, including the complete mélodies and the works for piano and strings, including some premieres.
My advisory board for this project was made up of prominent musicians, teachers and performers of this genre including Elly Ameling, Dalton Baldwin, Gérard Souzay, Ned Rorem, Isidore Cohen, David Soyer, Evelyne Crochet among others. Unfortunately, the celebration did not come about. But my passion for Fauré has not wavered.
In December of 1989, I gave a broadcast recital from the National Gallery of Art, accompanied by pianist Kenneth Marrill, violinist Nicholas Danielson, violist Ah-Ling Neu and cellist Alan Stepansky. This turned out to be my tribute to Fauré. I then lent the tape to a dear frind which she then unfortunately lost...
In the summer of 1993, I sang the role of Eurymache in the American stage premiere of Fauré's only opera, Penélope. It is a sadly-neglected work that deserves to be heard more often. Opera Manhattan and Gabriel Guimaraes were champions to have it staged in spite of the fact that it was reorchestrated for econonic reasons.
In the spring of 1995, conductor Mimi Daitz, a member of my Advisory Board and editor of a new edition of the mélodies of Fauré, arranged for my tuition at the symposium "Fauré: Ses Poètes et Ses Critiques", which took place at Bishop's University in Lenoxville, Québec. It was exhaustive, both physically and musicologically. Fauré's music was discussed in such encompassing content, detail and love that it deserves. Each paper was delivered in such entertaining ways: The performance of Chanson d'Éve by soprano Michèle Gagné and Tom Gordon, piano.
I am deeply indebted to Jean-Michel Nectoux for the support, assistance and kindness during the preparation of the programs, the title of the hommage itself, "Cette fantaisie et cette raison", and his friendship. I must also mention his edition of the Réquiem is as close to the original version as performed at the Medeleine that we will ever hear.
In closing, a quote of Joan Baez:
"I get high as a cloud on one sleeping pill, if that's what it means to get high, and it's not a whole lot different from what I feel like on a fall day in New England, or listening to the Fauré Requiem, or dancing to soul music or singing in a Mississippi church."
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