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Music Review: Frederica von Stade sings Fauré's Melodies

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Known for the creation of the French “melodie,” Fauré changed the German lieder style into a revolutionary French style that was all his own.  Frederica von Stade does an excellent job interpreting Fauré’s songs.

In this collection of Fauré’s melodies, his best-known works are presented marvelously.  His first work, La Papillon et La Fleur (the Butterfly and the Flower) is near the beginning of the album and sounds sparse and careful, but portrays potential that he exceeds with his later songs.  Most recognized is Clair de Lune, (not Dubussy!) a sorrowful poem by Paul Verlaine, which transitions beautifully into a slow and thoughtful melody by Fauré.

As a late romantic era composer, Fauré inspired many other contemporary composers.  He was taught by Saint-Saëns, and introduced to contemporary romantic music that challenged his ideals as a classically trained composer.  Fauré taught Maurice Ravel, though the connection is not obvious as they worked in different compositional areas.

Frederica von Stade was born in 1945 in New Jersey.  She spent many years as a mezzo-soprano in the Metropolitan Opera, and has made many recordings since.  Several contemporary composers, such as Danielpour, have written songs specifically for her.  Von Stade was also a featured performer in the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City. 

Frederica von Stade’s performs Fauré’s melodies with seeming ease, and the piano fades to the background with arpeggiated chords that follow the melody as a pure accompaniment.  Although Frederica von Stade is less active in the musical world than in the 80s, she is still known as one of the greatest singers to grace American soil.  This recording of Fauré’s melodies is yet another addition to von Stade’s impressive repertoire.