FAURÉ Complete Piano Works
Fauré’s piano works are among the most subtly daunting in all keyboard literature. Encompassing Fauré’s entire creative life, they range through an early, finely wrought eroticism via sporting with an aerial virtuosity as teasing and light as the elements themselves (the Valses-caprices) to the final desolation of his last years. There, in his most powerful works -(Barcarolles Nos 7-11, Nocturnes Nos 11-13), he faithfully mirrors a pain that ‘scintillates in full consciousness’, a romantic agony prompted by increasing deafness and a lack of recognition that often seemed close to oblivion. Few compositions have reflected a darker night of the soul, and Fauré’s anguish, expressed in both numbing resignation and unbridled anger, could surely only be exorcised by the articulation of such profound and disturbing emotional complexity. The task for the pianist, then, is immense, but in Kathryn Stott Fauré has a subtle and fearless champion. How thrilled Fauré would have been by the sheer immediacy of Stott’s responses. Time and again she throws convention to the winds, and although it would be surprising if all her performances were consistent successes, disappointments are rare. Sometimes her rubato and luxuriant pedalling soften the outlines of Fauré’s starkest, most austere utterances. But such quibbles remain quibbles. The Fourth Nocturne is gloriously supple, and the 13 Barcarolles show Stott acutely responsive to passion and finesse alike. The Pièces brèves, too, are played with rare affection. Stott proves herself a stylish and intriguing pianist.