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Francis Poulenc: Sonata for clarinet and piano (complete)

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by musicusblau, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Finally the summer holidays have begun and we found some time for recording the complete Poulenc Sonata. We have played that sonata in the town hall nearby the place I live. That was a good practice for our recording, which we have done today (25-6-2011) at my home. The clarinetist is Michael Schönfelder, my colleague.

    It´s a quite demanding work, especially the last movement. Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) may be was one of the most interesting composers of the so called "Groupe des Six", which joined also Darius Milhaud f.ex. This sonata was written in 1962, so one year before Poulencs death. He clearly wrote in a tonal style, but his harmonies always are coloured by very interesting and strange dissonances. For me that work has a lot of humour, sometimes a bit barefaced, it´s expressionistic, but also neo-romantic and has also some deep and serious passages in my humble opinion.

    We had a lot of fun to play that sonata, comments are appreciated, of course.

    Here are the video-links:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEwFXAgv ... ideo_title (Allegretto tristamente, 1st movement)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXMA630b ... ideo_title (Romanza, 2nd movement)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rssQT8yu ... ideo_title (Allegro con fuoco, 3rd movment)

    The audio-files below are exact the sound-tracks of the videos above.

    Poulenc - Piano and Clarinet Sonata, I: Allegretto tristamente
    Poulenc - Piano and Clarinet Sonata, II: Romanza
    Poulenc - Piano and Clarinet Sonata, III: Allegro con fuoco
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Good to see you back here!

    I just watched the videos of this Poulenc sonata and totally enjoyed it. My favorite is the final movement which looks rather difficult to play, although you seem to play it with ease. Your performance was at the peak of musicianship, and you were fortunate to have had a wonderful clarinettist as collaborator in this effort. Bravo!

    Your friend David
     
  3. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Andreus,
    I agree entirely with David. Your ensemble and artistry were excellent. Thank you.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,
    It's very late at night for me and so I cannot listen or watch these except for just one or two seconds as I put them up onto to site. Sorry, I'm just not keen on whole sonatas, but I'm sure this sounds fine, per David and Eddy's remarks.
     
  5. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, David, my friend, and also Eddy for your encouraging remarks and interest! I also think, Michael Schönfelder, my colleague, is a very good and musical clarinetist and it´s a lot of pleasure to play with him. (I´m sorry I first had forgotten to mention his name above, btw, and I have catched that up now.) Yes, this sonata is quite demanding and we worked several weeks on it. I can play my part almost by heart now, so much I have practised on it, but I didn´t dare to play it by heart, because there always are little imprecisions, if I do it.

    Thank you, Monica, for having put the files up to the main site.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    A wonderful sonata, wonderfully played. I particularly enjoyed the Romanza. You both play with consummate artistry but also form a perfect partnership. Congratulations to a job very well done ! Poulenc is always more demanding than it sounds and looks.

    The only thing to possibly nag about is the sound which is IMO a little too dry and boxy - at least for this repertoire. Did you not add any reverb ?
    Seems like some top notes have not yet recovered from the Moldau :) Luckily you don't normally get up there too often.
    I think at 1:56 in the Romanza there is a video cut without angle change. Either that or you had a quite violent twitch in your LH....
     
  7. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    techneut wrote:
    Thanks for that, Chris! :D

    Indeed, that´s true, especially the arpeggios in the last movements I always had to practise again and again, because it´s a matter of a good training here.

    I have add the usual reverberation setting, which I usually add to my Bach-recordings. But yes, may be they are a bit too dry. Do you think, I should change that and post new edited audio-files? (What means the word "boxy", btw? Sorry, couldn´t find that in the dictionary.)

    Hm, but I have retuned the whole treble. :evil: :cry:

    O.k., you have caught me here. Indeed there is the only cut!!! we made in the whole sonata and I have forgotten to slow down the picture before it, because in that passage we played some milliseconds faster. (The cut is only over two bars or so.) :oops: The fact, that there isn´t any change of the camera angle, proofs, that we have played that movement in one take.
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi again, Andreas,
    I have added your friend's name to the listing on the main site. As I was doing so, I listened to the first movement here and enjoyed the middle section very much.
     
  9. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is very nicely performed. I particularly enjoyed the second movement, which I thought had a wistful tinge to it. Compliments to both of you!
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Seem I am being a creative language user again. I meant boxy in the sense of: as in a box, or confined.
    I think the recordings might benefit from a bit more opulent sound, i.e. a bit more reverb. After all, Poulenc is not Bach :)

    I just thought one or two high noted sounded a bit off. Could be wrong about it.

    As if there is anything to prove :D
     
  11. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Pianolady wrote:
    Thank you very much, Monica!

    Thank you also for that, especially since you are "not keen on" sonatas. :wink: (I´m totally keen on such, btw. :lol: ) This slow theme in the middle section in a first movement of a sonata is quite unusual, by the way, but I think, that´s the second theme here (in german: Seitenthema) in that sonata form. It´s absolutely interesting, how individually and freely Poulenc works with the good old sonata form.

    Andrew wrote:
    Thank you, Andrew, I´m glad you enjoyed our performance. Yes, I agree that the mood in the second movement is quite wistful, that´s an example for a neo-romantic passage in that sonate in my humble opinion.

    Techneut wrote:
    Ah, o.k., now I understand (have mercy with a not so experienced user of the English language :lol: ). Could also have been, you are a fan of "boxing", and that my reverb had "boxed you off" or something like that, one never knows with your creative expressions. :lol:

    O.k., I will think about a new reverb-editing and if I´m satisfied, I will post the new edited files here. :)


    O.k., "to prove", not "to proof", but "the proof", isn´t it?! :D :D :D

    Btw, I´m going to practice on our Dvorak now... :D
     
  12. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Indeed. It's an extreme version of Chopin's sonata forms, making the recapitulation so much shorter than the exposition.

    I'm sorry I haven't had time to listen to this recording all the way through: it's one of my favourite pieces, but I'm just too busy at the moment. My first impression, from listening to the beginning of the first movement, is that you can use a lot more pedal--I think the dryness mentioned above is more to do with the performance than the recording, it's a bit too clear and precise. Also, when accompanying, it's often good to play the right hand softer than the left; if you emphasise the bass a bit more, it will help give a warmer sound quality.

    Hopefully I'll have time to listen properly to the whole work next week. Thanks for uploading this, it's nice to see more chamber music appearing on this site.
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Good :D
    I am going to paint my front door now (well that is, when the sun is no longer burning on it).
     
  14. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hanysz wrote:
    Yes, indeed, the whole second theme is left out during the recapitulation (Reprise), so it´s very much shortened.

    Thank you for your advices. From my view I have used quite a lot of pedal during the first 8 bars, even the two first chords in ff I have played while holding the right pedal! Than I hold it again during bar 4-5 all the time (like it is written in the score). Also the following pp-chords I play with a bit right pedal. From bar 9 and following I wanted to bring out the articulation, which is written by Poulenc (the two and four eights bows). I think, if you cover that with too much pedal, it is not corresponding to the intention of the composer. The same is with other following parts. I don´t think, that I´m playing "too" dry here, I think, it´s in the sense of the composer. (But I will think about that question in detail again...)


    I always emphasize the right hand, if there is melody in it like in bar 47-48 f.ex. If the main voice is in the tenor, I emphasize the left hand, like in bar 45-46 f.ex. I´m always thinking about the voicing of right and left hand. But have many thanks for your thoughts!
     
  15. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Yes, it was from measure 9 onwards that I thought you could use more pedal and more left hand; the opening is fine. In my opinion the slurs indicate that the second note of each slur is lighter than the first, but not that the second note should be staccato; the articulation is subordinate to the flow of the melodic line. But it sounds as though you've already considered this and you have strong ideas about the piece, so I probably shouldn't say any more ;-)

    Which clarinet and piano sonata do you plan to do next? We don't yet have the Hindemith on this site, do we?
     
  16. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hanysz wrote:
    Let´s say, that´s my interpretation this time and, of course, like always I have made some thoughts about it. But people who know me, know, that I´m able to do a complete other interpretation next time. The problem is, we can´t say "it has to be like this or that", all suggestions - like yours, that every second respective fourth note of the two- and four-eights figures from bar 9 on shouldn´t be too short/staccato - is a matter of taste and interpretation. May be next time I will play these figures with less articulation and more pedal (such things also depend a bit on my daily mood sometimes). I generally think, it is an important sign and duty in our new epoque/century to be very very open for all new possiblities...

    Yes, we have thought about that Hindemith-sonata, and I think, one nice day we will play it, but first we have planed to play Lutoslawski "5 Dance Preludes" (I have ordered the score today :D ) from 1954 (I believe) and one more jazz-piece, but after that we also want to do one of the Brahms-sonatas. (I already have played the first movement of both.)

    Thank you for your interest and your thoughts. Feel free to give more inspirations for my next interpretation of the Poulenc-sonata, if you like! For me it is one of the sense of this forum to give and to receive inspirations.
     
  17. pianoman342

    pianoman342 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    I sampled all three of your recordings. I can tell you and your duet partner have done some good work practicing as they sound fantastic.

    I personally thought the Romanza was a little more "tristimente" (If I'm correct in espanol translates to "mournfully") compared to the 1. Allegretto Tristimente, kind of confused why Poulenc made that choice in labeling.

    About the recording sounding boxy, I think I understand what he means, that the acoustics were somewhat dry, recorded in a small space (albeit bigger than a common box :lol:)

    Personally I liked the very little reverb. One thing I like to hear in studio recordings is minimal reverb as to hear a piece played with lots of reverb I would be privy to attend a concert in a concert hall where a member of an audience would hear beat one of a measure lingering, for example, when the pianist is ahead, articulating the 3rd and 4th. I'm getting off topic :roll:

    I missed hearing Poulenc in my music literature class last semester, though I read of him as a composer who "is often refused to be taken seriously" as per Harold Schoenberg's Lives of the Great Composers so I thank you for this introduction. I would be happy listening to his piano music but the textures of the clarinet blending with the piano come together very well in yours and Mr. Schonfelder's performances respectively

    ~Riley
     
  18. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Then you should look for recordings of the Gloria for choir and orchestra, and the sextet for piano and woodwind. I think you'll enjoy both of those works.
     
  19. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Pianoman342 wrote:
    Thank you for listening and your kind comment!

    Reverb is always a matter of personal taste. I was experimenting a bit around with several settings of reverberation, but didn´t come to an effect, which satisfies me personally until now. I will do some further experiments, but if I don´t find a setting, which I like more than this version I will let it like it is.

    I´m actually preparing a solo work for piano by Poulenc...
     
  20. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Finally I get down to writing! I have enjoyed your performance of the sonata, which I watched on YouTube. If I may dare, I would make on small little suggestion: maybe in your next video you might move your colleague's music stand a little, so it is inluded whole in the picture? This is only a visual thing, of course, and has no influence on the music, which, as I mentioned, is very good.
     

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