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I was very lucky: my first piano teacher, Jacques Bloch, himself a pupil of

Lazare-Lévy, adored themusic of Gabriel Fauré. All throughmy childhood,

I heard him play

Thème et Variations

, nocturnes, barcarolles and

impromptus. Later, at the Paris Conservatoire, it was Dominique Merlet

who kept the flame burning. A disciple of Roger-Ducasse (probably the

musician closest to Fauré), he introduced me to the


, but also to

those late pieces that are still intimidating, even today – I’m thinking of

the last nocturnes and the fourth and fifth impromptus. Subsequently I

added to my repertoire almost all the


and the chamber works.

As always, immersing oneself in all the strata of a composer’s œuvre

makes it possible to recreate a world, with its spirit, its colours, its

perfumes, its idioms, its ideals, and to gain a better grasp of its evolutions,

its singularities and its sources of inspiration.

Among such sources of inspiration, the caressing pianism of the


evokes those black keys of which Chopin was so fond (the


, the

Barcarolle, the Étude op.10 no.5, the Impromptus opp.36 and 51). The

middle section of Fauré’s Nocturne no.2 seems to emerge from one of


Bunte Blätter

. And the central part of the Nocturne no.4

makes me think of the ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde in the second act of

Wagner’s opera.