Barcarolle No.5

Gabriel Fauré

Barcarolle No.5 in F# minor

Op. 66

About this work

In many ways, 1894 was a milestone year for Fauré: not only had he completed his important song cycle La bonne chanson, as well as other vocal works and the Nocturne No. 6 and this Barcarolle in F sharp minor, but he had begun receiving significant recognition from both critics and the public. In short, his confidence in his compositional skills had rarely been stronger and his productivity higher. This Barcarolle exhibits that confidence and assured manner, from its joyous quirkiness to its bold harmonic shifts. The work opens with a terse, restless theme that immediately turns stormy -- but gleefully stormy. That bright mood remains when the lively second subject is presented. In many ways, the music here augurs the quirky manner that Scriabin would exhibit in his keyboard style a decade or so later. The middle section is lovely and initially serene and full of subtle beauty as it begins building. The music soon reaches a powerful climax, after which the opening theme returns, now sinister, in the bass regions -- really as a deft continuation of that climactic episode. The tension eventually fades and the work quietly ends. This colorful, attractive piece typically has a duration of six minutes.