The Fantasie was commissioned by and dedicated to Paul Taffanel in 1898 for the “Concours de flute”, a flute competition held by the Conservatoire de Paris. Taffanel, who took over a flute class in 1893, regularly commissioned new compositions for the annual competition, and over time amassed a whole repertoire of technically challenging pieces suitable for the Conservatoire’s requirements.
The Fantasie, together with a smaller sight-reading piece titled Morceau de lecture, were given an eightfold premiere at the competition on 28 July 1898, namely by all Taffanel’s students.
The Fantasie has since become a firm part of the flute repertoire. It was orchestrated by Louis Aubert in 1957.
The Fantasie consists of two movements separated only by a pause:
• Andantino . = 50
The first 18 bars of the introduction were also used for Fauré’s incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80, written at the same time. This is a great opportunity to really explore an expressive cantabile line and is definitely an instance where one is grateful for hours of tone development through interpretation.
• Allegro = 144
The faster second section demands agility, the ability to also get the expressive phrases to sing and have colour and create excitement in the conclusion.
Fauré specified a playing time of four-and-a-half minutes. Most recordings are between 5.08 and 5.38. Mine is 5.25. For me personally it should be at the tempo the performer can bring it to life musically without sacrificing tone and expression for speed.