Faure - Apres un reve

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Background information and performance circumstances

  • Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) - one of the three great masters of French melodie
  • 'Apres un reve' was an early work, published in 1878
  • many households owned a piano, and solo songs were a popular form of domestic entertainment that found a ready market with publishers
  • Faure sold his songs - consequently made little from their subsequent popularity

Performaning forces and their handling

  • vocal line is marked 'voix' (voice)
  • range of an eleventh
  • vocal part has room for flexibility but avoids extremes
  • piano part sets up a single rhytmic pattern that is maintained throughout the song, with right-hand chords of three or four notes and a bass line in single notes or octaves
  • right hand part with a range of less than two octaves, never rises more than an octave above middle C
  • the accentuation and expression of the words:
    • accentuation of French is very different from spoken English - English has a set accent
    • speakers in French emphasise the last syllable within a word
    • Faure matches these accents precisely in the music

Structure

Modified strophic form (A A1 B)

  • structure matches content of poem - verses 1 and 2 describe the dream; an ecstatic imagined elopement into the great blue yonder, in verse 3 the singer has awoken, but 'cries to dream again'
    • 'A' section: bars 2-15 (preceded by one bar of piano introduction)
    • 'A1' section: bars 17-30 - a varied repeat of bars 2-15, after a single transitional bar for piano (bar 16). there are modifications from bar 26 onwards
    • B section: bars 30-48 - the material is related to the previous sections but the treatment is new

Varied phrase lengths

  • the shifting sense of the dream-scene is evoked by varied phrase lengths (leaving aside the piano-only bars) the structure is as follows:
    • bars 2-15: 3+4 bars, 3+4 bars
    • bars 17-30: 3+4 bars, 3+2+2 bars - the shortening of the phrases builds up tension at the end of the verse, which leads into the next section with no piano interlude
    • bars 30-47: 4+4+4+5 bars

Tonality

Chromaticism

  • Faure includes frequent small chromatic alterations in the accompaniment, which often produce secondary dominants, or play on the contrast of major and minor chords
  • his harmonic excursions are carefully prepared and resolved, and he ensures that even his most dramatic effects feel inevitable in their context

Tonality

  • C minor - perfect cadence in C minor in the final bars (45-47). Until then, Faure avoids clear-cut perfect cadences in the home key
  • Imperfect cadences in C are reached at principle phrase-ends: bars 6-8, 21-23, and 36-38
  • there is one structural modulation, marked by the perfect cadence in Eb major (bars 14-15) at the end of the first section
  • tonality passes through a number of transient modulations, such as movement through F minor, Bb minor and Ab major in bars 28-34

Harmony

  • Faure's harmony is broadly functional
  • organised around the 'magnetic' pull from the dominant to the tonic
  • the route towards the dominant is often  lengthy and circuitous (eg. tonic…

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