Gabriel Fauré – Élégie pour violoncelle et piano
– Germaine Thyssens Valentin & Robert Salles
The Élégie (Elegy), Op. 24, was written by the French composer Gabriel Fauré in 1880, and first published and performed in public in 1883. Originally for cello and piano, the piece was later orchestrated by Fauré. The work, in C minor, features a sad and sombre opening and climaxes with an intense, fast-paced central section, before the return of the elegiac opening theme.
In 1880, having completed his First Piano Quartet, Fauré began work on a cello sonata. It was his frequent practice to compose the slow movement of a work first, and he did so for the new sonata. The completed movement was probably premiered at the salon of Camille Saint-Saëns in June 1880. The movement, like the quartet, is in the key of C minor. Whether the rest of the sonata would have been in that key is unknown: Fauré never completed it, and in January 1883 the slow movement was published as a stand-alone piece under the title Élégie.
The first performance of the work under its new title was given at the Société Nationale de Musique in December 1883 by the composer and the cellist Jules Loeb to whom the piece is dedicated.[n 1] The Élégie was a great success from the outset, and the conductor Édouard Colonne asked Fauré for a version for cello and orchestra. Fauré agreed, and that version was premiered at the Société Nationale in April 1901, with Pablo Casals as soloist and the composer as conductor.[2