9 Preludes, Op. 103

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The nine Préludes are among the least known of Fauré's major piano compositions. They were written while the composer was struggling to come to terms with the onset of deafness in his mid-sixties. By Fauré's standards this was a time of unusually prolific output. The préludes were composed in 1909 and 1910, in the middle of the period in which he wrote the opera Pénélope, the barcarolles nos. 8–11 and nocturnes nos. 9–11. In Koechlin's view, "Apart from the Préludes of Chopin, it is hard to think of a collection of similar pieces that are so important".  The critic Michael Oliver wrote, "Fauré's Préludes are among the subtlest and most elusive piano pieces in existence; they express deep but mingled emotions, sometimes with intense directness ... more often with the utmost economy and restraint and with mysteriously complex simplicity."  Jessica Duchen calls them "unusual slivers of magical inventiveness." The complete set takes between 20 and 25 minutes to play. The shortest of the set, No 8, lasts barely more than a minute; the longest, No 3, takes between four and five minutes.

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