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Work

Francis Poulenc

Francis Poulenc Composer

Concerto in D- for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, FP61

Performances: 9
Tracks: 27
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Musicology:
  • Concerto in D- for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, FP61
    Key: D-
    Year: 1932
    Genre: Concerto
    Pr. Instrument: Piano
    • 1.Allegro ma non troppo
    • 2.Larghetto
    • 3.Finale. Allegro molto
Poulenc composed this music in 1932, and played the first performance with Jacques Fevrier on September 5 during the Fifth International Music Festival in Venice, with Désire Defauw conducting the La Scala Orchestra from Milan. It is scored for double winds and brass plus piccolo, English horn, tuba, assorted drums, and reduced strings.

While Poulenc was studying with Koechlin, Serge Diaghilev commissioned him to write Les biches (colloquially "The Girls") for his Ballets Russes. Produced in 1924, this made Poulenc famous. He solidified his reputation in 1928 with the delectable Concert champêtre for harpsichord. The saucy-sentimental Two-Piano Concerto followed in 1932, commissioned by the Princesse Edmond de Polignac (herself a composer, but more famous as a Parisian hostess and patron of the arts). Songs apart, the Two-Piano Concerto has proved to be the composer's hardiest work, clearly influenced by Ravel's G major Concerto, which was premiered at Paris in January 1932—especially its instrumentation and "blues" passages (in their very French way). Each of the three movements has a slow central section, part-bittersweet, part-sentimental, amounting to ABA form in the first and second, but a rondo-component in the finale.

The opening Allegro ma non troppo has a sonata-form exposition and recapitulation along with bits of once-popular chansons (like croutons in salad) that complement the composer's own jaunty first and second subjects. The slow, sighing central section replaces a development group before Poulenc returns to the boulevards and boites.

The Larghetto pays homage to Mozart throughout, at one point to the slow movement of the C major Piano Concerto, K. 467. Piano I leads in effect a musette, as if on a toy piano. The middle section becomes more impassioned, building to a sonorous climax before calm is restored.

Returning to the mood of the first movement, the Allegro molto finale begins with percussive flourishes before it takes off like an Alfa-Romeo in a Grand prix through the avenues and allées of day-and-night Paris, past marching bands and music halls. There is, however, an interlude lyrique et romantique when the Alfa stops for a bedroom tryst, where perfume and perspiration mix with the smoke from Gauloises, after which the race resumes, even more racily.

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