'Beautifully phrased performances, graced with exquisite tone.' Fauré's Nocturnes span his creative life, from the charming Chopinesque salon pieces of his early years to the relentless, questioning works of his maturity. Listening to Sally Pinkas' traversal straight through, one is made very aware of the gradual rise in emotional temperature, though rather less of the music's increasing starkness of texture; an odd divergence that Kathryn Stott charts quite effectively. Yet Pinkas really revels in the opulent fabric of the first few nocturnes, finding a wider variety of color and shading than Stott. Listen, for example, to the pianist's careful weighting of voices one shyly shadowing the other in the central section of the First Nocturne (beginning around 2'11''). Pinkas has a natural feeling for rubato, too, and while she occasionally exaggerates what should be a gentle ritard, the sense of fluidity is consistently conveyed. She captures the song like character of No. 4 beautifully, making her instrument sing even in ornamental runs. The central section of No. 6 is delicately ecstatic, like a seraph strumming a celestial harp, and the fidgety sequences of No. 9, which can seem to meander, are sensitively shaped into expressive phrases. Pinkas' exquisite tone deserves special mention, as it never becomes hard or edgy in the way Stott's sometimes does, and the engineer has put enough air around the instrument to make the upper registers shimmer. In fact, this is one of the best sounding piano recordings I've heard in some time. In addition to her thoughtful booklet notes, Pinkas gives an animated and jargon free 18 minute introduction to Fauré's Nocturnes (with helpful musical examples) on a second complimentary disc. Now may we please have her Barcarolles? Andrew Farach-Colton Gramophone, September 2002 NOTES Throughout his life Gabriel Fauré maintained interest in certain genres which had captured his imagination early on. Considering the intimate and lyrical nature of his music, it is not surprising that he wrote thirteen Nocturnes for the piano between 1875 and 1921. In his output for solo piano only the Barcarolle occupies a similar place, with thirteen works written within a slightly shorter time span. Nocturnes and Barcarolles, as well as Impromptus, Valses and Preludes (other forms used by Fauré) were also favorites of Frédéric Chopin. The melodious writing and the intricate balance between melody, harmony and texture are indeed characteristics of both composers' Nocturnes. Yet, unlike Chopin, a famous pianist and a composer mostly of piano music, Fauré was an organist whose greatest strengths were his unique harmonic idiom and his lyricism. Chopin wrote his twenty one Nocturnes in seven years (1830-1837), while in the forty six years between the 1st and the 13th Nocturne, Fauré traversed the distance between 19th century Parisian salons and post-World War I France in the 20th century. Each of Fauré's Nocturnes tells a different tale and partakes of a different reality. For the most part, they are unheard in public. They are not easily revealed- neither to the listener nor to the performer. With but a little perseverance, however, they yield much emotion, charm and imagination to both.