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RMCO Work Detail

Title Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112
Composer Faure, Gabriel
Contributor's Name Howard Goldstein
Bio Movements: I. Ouverture: Allegro molto vivo / II. Menuet: Allegretto moderato / III. Gavotte: Allegro vivo / IV. Pastorale: Andantino tranquillo

In 1918 Prince Albert I of Monaco commissioned Faure to write a short work for the Monte Carlo theater. Instead of writing an entirely new work, he decided to rework some earlier compositions and combine them with some already finished songs, instrumental and choral pieces, among them the famous Pavane, Op. 50. The whole entertainment was linked by Rene Fauchois' text, written in the style of Verlaine's homages to the 18th century; the wafer-thin plot brings some stock commedia dell'arte characters (Harlequin, Gilles, and Colombine) to the island of Cythera, where, instead of performing for their aristocratic audience, they decide to let the audience entertain them. The first performance on April 10, 1919, featured sets inspired by paintings of the Watteau and was an immediate success.

The suite contains four orchestral numbers that offer a concise overview of Faure's stylistic development. The Mozartean Overture and the sprightly Gavotte date back to the composer's twenties and are remarkably forward looking in their neoclassicism. The Menuet and Pastorale, on the other hand, are Faure's last orchestra compositions. The Pastorale especially is vintage Faure, with its bittersweet harmonies poised on the verge of tonal breakdown, but always brought back to earth with logic and restraint.


Work record last updated on 07-19-2004