3 Romances Sans Paroles, Op. 17
for Solo Piano
Following the release in 2003 of the Urtext Peters Edition publication of Fauré's Pièces brèves (EP 7601), the eminent French music specialist Roy Howat has taken an in-depth look at another lesser-known collection of piano pieces by Gabriel Fauré Romances sans paroles to reveal further treasures.Romances sans paroles is French for Lieder ohne Worte or "Songs without words". Fauré's only three pieces in the genre, suggestinga youthful homage to Mendelssohn, were his first piano pieces to be pub lished. Exactly when he composed them is uncertain, though most of his biographers suggest it could have been any time from 1863 onwards (the year he turned eighteen). In fact the Romances sans paroles are not easy, given the pianist's dual occupation with complex accompaniments and melodies that sometimes echo imitatively across voices (Fauré was ambidextrous, and the pieces might be viewed in several ways as études). It was thus not surprising that they soon became as popular, if not more so, in arrangements by Jules Delsart for violin or cello accompanied by piano, published by Hamelle in 1896. Whether on Delsart's or Hamelle's initiative, these transcriptions bowdlerise many of Fauré's more daring passing harmonies, especially in the second Romance; the music's full adventurousness, manifest in the piano version, has therefore been long masked frommany listeners and performers. (Roy Howat)
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