Sonata for Oboe and Piano

Composer: Francis Poulenc (b. 1899 - d. 1963)
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Composer: Francis Poulenc (b. 1899 - d. 1963)

Performance date: 28/06/2022

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1962

Duration: 00:13:38

Recording Engineer: Simon Cullen, Ergodos

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Artists: Julius Drake - [piano]
Emmanuel Laville - [oboe]

Francis Poulenc [1899-1963]

Sonata for Oboe and Piano [1962]

1. Elégie – paisiblement

2. Scherzo – très animé

3. Déploration – très calme

Following Matisse’s example, I try to go from the complex to the simple line

Francis Poulenc

Poulenc dedicated the Sonata to Prokofiev, whom he had met in Paris in 1920. When asked what Prokofiev thought of his music he replied: Nothing good, nothing good, but I don’t care. Our relations were: bridge, the piano and friendship. Poulenc greatly admired the composer of the Classical Symphony and the iconoclasms of the piano pieces like Toccata, Sarcasmes and Tales of an old Grandmother. In his Oboe Sonata, Poulenc is thinking more of the Quintet Op.39 and the radiant simplicity of the 1944 Violin Sonata.

I have found the elements of an oboe sonata, the first part will be elegiac, the second scherzando and the last a sort of liturgical chant. So wrote Poulenc in July 1962 and indeed the work begins serenely with the oboe stating the theme, while the piano accompanies discreetly. Later the piano rouses itself briefly to impose its presence at the peroration. At the close the oboe is held over a piano chord softly shrouded with pedals. The cheerful Scherzo has the piano in percussive mode with the oboe striving to match it, while in the trio both instruments sing out gloriously. The Finale’s lament returns to the elegiac mood of the opening movement respecting and invigorating the special genius of the oboe for great melancholy.

Francis Humphrys