《Berceuse, Op. 16》

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Antonio Stradivari "Joachim-Elman", Vi (1722)
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Gabriel Fauré was a French romantic composer active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A valued pupil of Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) , Fauré was heavily influenced by his teacher. His compositions display a high level of technical mastery, and make extensive use of the rhythms of the French language. Works such as Requiem and Pavane are characterized by purity, refinement, and immense beauty. This particular piece by Fauré was written for French violinist Paul Viardot (1857 – 1941) , the son of the noted French mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot-García (1821–1910) ; Fauré was passionately in love with Viardot’s sister. After writing a violin sonata for Viardot in 1875, four years later Fauré wrote three more pieces of chamber music for him: a Violin Concerto (Op. 14, unfinished) , his First Piano Quartet (Op. 15) , and this piece, Berceuse (Op. 16) . Op. 16 was completed in 1879 with two versions of this particular piece. The first version, written for violin and piano, was first performed in Paris on February 14th, 1880 by the Belgian violinist Ovide Musin (1854–1929) and Fauré himself. It was later rewritten for violin soloist and orchestral accompaniment, and performed two months later in Paris, again with Musin on violin. Berceuse is short but exquisitely-written; it is generally considered to be one of Fauré’s masterpieces. Structured in ternary form, it has a simple but beautiful melody, and the chords used in the accompaniment are clear and bright with a powerful sense of rhythm. In this work, Fauré demonstrates his mastery of modulation, adding the piece with emotive power to the melody.