Impromptu No.3

Gabriel Fauré

Impromptu No.3 in Ab major

Op. 34

About this work

If the first three of Fauré's Impromptus, all dating from 1883, work the same vein of lyric charm and superficial brilliance, it is also true that each strikes more deeply than the last. The Third Impromptu is the gem among these early essays. Over a harmonically diffident arpeggio in perpetual motion, a long, even cantilena teasingly unfolds, to finish with a rapid pianissimo flourish. Beginning hesitantly, the central molto meno mosso section introduces a tentatively arching melody which soon acquires an animated, octave-articulated tone of dreamlike passion. As it is muted, a shimmering run leads into the perpetual motion arpeggio of the opening, trailing its cantando blitheness, and, for a moment, the music wavers between dreaming introspection and lyric gaiety before deciding upon the latter to end with a mercurial flourish. In contrast to, say, the Valse-Caprices, which are nothing but charm and brilliance, an ineffable poetry laces this Third Impromptu -- at once effervescent and evanescent -- and takes one, in the briefest moment, by delighted surprise. The Third Impromptu was given its offical première by Saint-Saëns at a Société Nationale concert of January 10, 1885, though it was no doubt heard in the salons Fauré frequented several times before.