Oboe Sonata (Poulenc)
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The Sonata for oboe and piano by Francis Poulenc dates from 1962. It is his opus number 185 and is dedicated to the memory of Sergei Prokofiev. According to many, the last movement "Déploration" was the last piece he wrote before he died. It sits as a kind of obituary.
The Oboe Sonata is very difficult in places, especially the Scherzo. The sorrowful Déploration also requires great skill. To express his mourning for his friend Prokofiev, Poulenc uses the extremes of the oboe. For example, in one passage the player must play a phrase at the bottom of the oboe's range including B flat, the oboe's lowest note, very loudly (fortissimo). The same phrase is then repeated but is marked to be played very quietly (pianissimo). Another obvious example of Poulenc's use of extreme scoring in the first movement is the starting theme which is very high and the player must be skilled to control the notes and keep them in tune.
The piece is in three movements:
- Elégie (Paisiblement, Sans Presser)
- Scherzo (Très animé)
- Déploration (Très calme)
The movements are in the order slow-fast-slow as opposed to the fast-slow-fast of the traditional sonata.
A typical performance will last between 13 and 15 minutes.
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