Francis Poulenc

Sonata for violin & piano, FP 119

    Description by Andrew Lindemann Malone

    Francis Poulenc's Sonata for violin and piano was composed during 1942 and 1943 while his country was at war and its dedication is to the memory of a victim of a then-recent foreign conflict: Federico Garcia Lorca, the poet, who was slain during the Spanish Civil War. In these circumstances, even this most delightful of composers acquired a harder edge, as displayed immediately in the Allegro con fuoco first movement with a dark, jagged opening theme on the violin and percussive support on the piano. This theme, reminiscent of Poulenc's friend and model Igor Stravinsky, dominates the movement, providing the basis for both the quieter, melancholic passages, as well as further eruptions of rage. Emotions become more extreme as the movement goes on before it closes on an unexpected major chord. Tentative, repeated chords in the piano open the second movement, an "Intermezzo tres lent et calme"; the violin first enters with a pizzicato accompaniment reminiscent of guitar-plucking, then takes a short, pregnant lyrical phrase. Soon, these elements build up into a rapturous melodic interlude, with the violin's phrasing often recalling Spanish song in the work's only obvious reference to its dedicatee. After the lyrical rapture has risen and fallen, the piano enters with angular, unsettled chords that lead into an astringently harmonized violin melody; the movement ends on a weird, unresolved glissando, leading into a Presto tragico third movement that brings back the fire of the first. This soon yields to happier melodies, which the violin initially fights with furious fiddling but eventually joins. After the rush leads each instrument to an exposed solo, however, their energy seems spent, the tempo slows to Strictement le double plus lent, and the mood becomes funereal; an odd coda appears to end on an inappropriate smirk, but undercuts that with one last angry outburst.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro con fuoco
    2. Intermezzo. Très lent et calme
    3. Presto tragico

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Alpha 387
    2018 Accentus ACC 30436
    2017 Somm SOMMCD 0169
    2017 Claves
    2017 Claves 501701
    2017 Brilliant Classics BRI 95351
    2017 Simax Classics PSC 1354
    2016 Orchid Classics ORC 100053
    2016 Globe Records GLO 5263
    2016 Mirare MIR 312
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875183402
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 555054
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875192942
    2015 Paladino Music PMR 0049
    2015 Cobra Records 0045
    2014 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 081
    2014 ECM / ECM New Series
    2014 ECM ECM 2356
    2014 Urlicht UAVCD 5986
    2013 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 059
    2012 Fleur de Son FDS 58005
    2012 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 208
    2011 Oehms Classics OC 822
    2011 Avie 2216
    2011 Supraphon SU 40752
    2011 Decca
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908585820
    2011 Documents / Scandinavian Classics 233317
    2010 Centaur Entertainment / Centaur Records 3009
    2010 Orchid Classics 100003
    2010 Genuin 10175
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926413
    2008 Orfeo 739081
    2008 Blue Saphir 001040
    2008 Hoot Wisdom Records 10
    2006 Neos Productions 90698
    2006 Brilliant Classics 7980
    2005 Meridian Records 84513
    2005 NSS Music 1
    2005 Decca 4757097
    2003 Audite 97488
    2002 Sony Classical 89699
    2002 Sony Classical 89699
    2002 Classico 407
    2002 Sony Classical Essential Classics 7
    2001 SOMM 18
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 569267
    2001 CBC Records 1140
    2001 Supraphon 3547
    2000 Talent Records 42
    2000 Naxos 8 553612
    1999 Disques Pierre Verany 799012
    1999 Hyperion CDA672556
    1998 Praga 250109
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 73115
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 66839
    1995 Koch Schwann 315272
    1995 Gega New 136
    1994 EMI Classics 54541
    1992 Naxos 550276
    Lynn Kuo
    Accord 202022
    Stardust Duo 6375
    Music & Arts 620