SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Size: 315 MB
01. Valse-caprice for piano No. 1 in A major, Op. 30
02. Valse-caprice for piano No. 2 in D flat major, Op. 38
03. Valse-caprice for piano No. 3 in G flat major, Op. 59
04. Valse-caprice for piano No. 4 in A flat major, Op. 62
05. Impromptu for piano No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 25
06. Impromptu for piano No. 2 in F minor, Op. 31
07. Impromptu for piano No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 34
08. Impromptu for piano No. 4 in D flat major, Op. 91
09. Impromptu for piano No. 5 in F sharp minor, Op. 102
10. Impromptu for piano No. 6 in D flat major (transcribed from Impromptu for harp by Cortot), Op. 86bis
11. à 18. Pièces brèves for piano, Op. 84
Germaine Thyssens-Valentin (piano), 1956
Outstanding Interpretations of Faure
These recordings of Faure’s piano music – this is one of three Faure CDs of Thyssens-Valentine released by Testament – move easily to the top of any recommendation. They document a remarkable story. When barely a teenager Madame Thyssens-Valentine entered the Conservatoire Superieur de Paris: by her eighteenth birthday the young pianist had won the coveted First Prize for piano. At that time Gabriel Faure was still director, and it is pleasant – but probably rather unlikely – to think he had some influence on the young star. However, times were difficult following the First World War, and within a few years the fledging concert pianist was married and her public career over.
For twenty-five years Thyssens-Valentine remained out of the limelight, only to reemerge as a concert pianist in the early fifties. Her recordings reveal a solid unflappable technique, an easy grasp of and flair for bringing out the quietest cantabile passages, and subtleties of touch and pedaling found only in great artists. By 1956, after long study of Faure’s piano works, then rarely performed even in France, she gave two five evening concerts of Faure’s complete works. It was following these concerts that Ducretet-Thomson recorded Germaine Thyssens-Valentine in a large number of Faure works. At a time when Faure’s piano music was barely known, Thyssens-Valentine, according to Testament’s notes, recorded the complete works twice! To this day no one has been so overwhelmingly successful in capturing the essence of these highly poetic and often elusive, enigmatic works. Faure, it should be remembered, also wrote music for Maeterlinck’s mysterious Pelleas et Melisande, with its atmosphere of an evanescent ‘parfum imperissable’.
Anyone interested in hearing the very best of Faure’s keyboard writing should first consider the Nocturnes. These can be heard on another Testament reissue by Thyssens-Valentine, Nocturnes 1-13 The selections on this reviewed CD, Waltzes, Impromptus, and short pieces are more forward, less complex works, that is, more easily accessible and extroverted than the Nocturnes – though I use the adjective ‘extroverted’ in a relative sense when it comes to Faure. All of this Testament series offering Thyssens-Valentine’s artistry showcase a depth and maturity in Faure not to be found in modern efforts, which too often succumb to forcing the music – an unforgiveable blunder in Faure’s music.
Classic recordings by the major proponent of Faure’s piano music, with excellent notes on the music, and a lengthy discussion and biography of Germaine Thyssens-Valentine.