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Sextet for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn

Francis Poulenc (b. 1899 - d. 1963)

Azahar Wind Ensemble (photo credit: Engel)

Azahar Wind Ensemble (photo credit: Engel)

Composer
Francis Poulenc (b. 1899 - d. 1963)
Composition Year
1931-1939
Work Movements
1. Allegro vivace
2. Divertissement
3. Finale
Artists
Gloria Campaner [piano], Azahar Wind Quintet (Frederic Sanchez Muñoz [flute], María Alba Carmona Tobella [oboe], Miguel Ramos Salvadó [clarinet], Antonio Lageres Abeal [horn], María José García Zamora [bassoon]) [wind quintet]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

This tremendous work was first heard in its original version in 1931. However the composer was not satisfied and re-worked it several times before reaching a final, definitive form in 1939. It was premiered in December 1940 in the early months of the German Occupation of Paris and was eventually published in Copenhagen in 1945.

 

It is almost impossible to know when to take Poulenc seriously, there is always an atmosphere of tongue-in-cheek surrealism about his music. If he spins a romantic air you can be sure his sense of the ridiculous will get the better of him soon. There can be no better antidote to the intensity of the Austro-German school of music making than exposure to Poulenc’s lightness of spirit.

 

The work opens with a dramatic flourish, immediately mocked before the instruments set off in surreal hot pursuit of each other. Two more themes are knocked around before we are dazzled by a delightful sentimental tune in a contrasting slow tempo. This gets gorgeous treatment before it comes to a sticky end and the furious tempo of the first half returns.

 

The Divertissement is exactly that with another slow, sweet tune bracketing a swift and jovial acceleration. It ends in a mood of almost Mozartian repose. The last movement sets off in a wild Prestissimo but surprisingly decides to end in a mood of solemn apotheosis.
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