“To my mind art, and above all music, consists in lifting us as far as possible above what is,” Gabriel Fauré once wrote. The composer had good reason to wish to transcend reality. His difficult status as establishment ‘outsider’, a marriage of a few ups and many downs, an almost impossible work-life balance, and, in middle age, the onset of deafness: all made his compositional quest singularly hard won.

Gabriel Fauré

To achieve great things, Leonard Bernstein said, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. For most of his life Fauré had not nearly enough time to compose; most of his music emerged during summer holidays, away from Paris, preferably amid lakeside landscapes. His output is considerable in piano...

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