Thème et variations

Gabriel Fauré

Thème et variations in C-sharp minor

Op. 73

About this work

The Thème et variations here is a large piece, usually having a duration well over a quarter-hour. It came a year after Fauré's Nocturne in D flat major No. 6, which ended a six-year hiatus from writing piano music for the composer. Fauré was also in the process of evolving his keyboard style toward bolder harmonic and thematic means of expression, but this work is largely conservative, even exhibiting hints of Schumann, especially in the main theme. That theme, marked Quasi adagio, is stately and presented in short, somewhat repetitive-sounding phrases. It has an expressive depth in its mixture of the noble and gloomy, of elegance and splendor. The first variation does not stray far in mood or in thematic change, but the second is lively and playful, exuding brilliant, almost Rachmaninovian colors. The ensuing variant is moderately paced, but still quite playful in its greater muscle. The music in the Molto Adagio sixth variation may offer the greatest depth here, and that in the Andante molto moderato eighth variation, the dreamiest and most serene. With the tenth variation, the music turns quite lively and colorful, and in the concluding 11th, the mood shifts to a quiet, reserved manner at the outset to a serenely triumphant one at the end.