• oboe/pf
  • 13 min

Programme Note

During the last years of his life, Poulenc worked on a projected series of sonatas, one for each wind instrument. He lived to complete only three, the others being for flute and for clarinet. All are dedicated to the memory off friends or fellow musicians and the SONATA FOR OBOE AND PIANO is inscribed 'à la mémoire de Serge Prokofieff'.

In MY FRIENDS AND MYSELF, Poulenc said: 'You can be a great musician and still not be an innovator…you can be influenced by Prokofiev... I have myself in certain little areas'. He acknowledged Prokofiev's influence on the Sextet in an essay on Prokofiev's piano music, but the SONATA FOR OBOE AND PIANO is undoubtedly Poulenc's most direct tribute to the Russian master. The reversal of his customary fast - slow - fast sequence of movements fulfils affective requirements yet the influence dedicatee is felt most strongly in the SCHERZO. Here the brilliant brittle piano writing might be by Prokofiev himself (though there is more than a hint of Balakirev's ISLAMEY) while the slow, lyrical central section is based on one of the themes from the finale of Prokofiev's flute sonata. If the opening ELEGY owes something to Stravinsky, the sense of deep calm which pervades the final LAMENT is pure Poulenc, reminiscent of much of his religious music. How fitting that the valedictory final page was to be the last music he wrote.

The SONATA FOR OBOE AND PIANO was first performed by Pierre Pierlot and Jacques Février on 8 June 1963 at the Strasbourg Festival.

© 1985 Graham Mackie