POulenc's "Sextet" my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE CLASSICAL PIECE EVER!!!!!!!!!! #HALLELUJAH
Francis Poulenc: Sextour
My Favorite Classical Piece Ever: Poulenc’s “Sextour”
While you read this- listen to this link, what an excellent group. Reminds me of my favorite recording from the sextet with Pascal Roge at the piano….. this is just as good, if not better.
OOOOOOH HALLELUJAH! WHAT MAGNIFICENT CHORDS! WHAT FABULOUS RHYTHMS! WTF! LIKE WAY COOL!!!!! The title alone let's us know this is the Playboy...well, let's be real, this piece is the International Male magazine/catalogue, set to music.
Blessed# Blessed to have ears to hear, and fingers to typeth this. Finally, I’ve figured out how to control the font. Blogging could be fun.
After years of local piano lessons, I began classical piano lessons at the age of 14, with Margery McDuffie at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. So, I suppose that was around 1996… During that time, they had recently purchased a new Steinway D. The inaugural concert was to have a major effect on the way that I choose to listen to music. Ingrid Von Spakovsky Weaver and Margery McDuffie Whatley played a piano four-hand version of the overture from “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart. Though, the piece that completely transformed the way that I hear music was (what is now my ultimate favorite piece to listen to) the “Sextour”(or “Sextet) by Francis Poulenc. If I recall correctly, the personnel on the Poulenc was: Margery McDuffie, piano, Hunter Thomas, bassoon, Dorie Nutt, French Horn, Robert West, Clarinet, Evelyn Loehrlein, Flute, and Oboe may have been Lisa Schneider...I can't remember. It was so wonderful.
For a person of my age at the time, the Poulenc was so absolutely fresh and quirky. Lest we forget that I was from a city that the extent of orchestration was very basic marching band music...while not a slight on the musical community at that time, Poulenc wasn't a composer that one would run across if ever there in 1996.
Poulenc creates musical moments that are just entirely too clever, and colorful, with gobs of textures and undulations of changes…everything so interesting and detailed. Poulenc isn’t afraid of the thornier sides of his music either- clearly, a fellow fetishist of irony…Poulenc seemed to like high camp. What a heavenly musical match for me at age 14. Somewhere, in some book, I don't know which- I had read that Poulenc was always dressed in fine clothes, though they would be wrinkled, or stained, his house was beautiful, but there would be a major creak in the floor... I hear this in his music- little "imperfections" among the perfection- though, I'm not convinced that even his shortcomings of dress, and home maintenance reflect his music, or is this just coincidence? Regardless of the correlations, Poulenc has a beautiful moment, and then he puts his pen in the acid a little bit, and doesn't allow the listener or player to rest in harmonious peace. This to me reminds me of wrong-note-romantic bloated form, and always too long compositions of Leo Sowerby's organ music. I love Sowerby, alas, he could have said more in less time...more compact like Poulenc. I know very little about Sowerby aside from organ gossip- which is acidic and miserable as Sowerby's longest and tedious piece.
Curiously enough, I have never performed the piece. It is standard repertoire at this juncture. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to play it soon.
Firstly in the Sextour are the curious textures, and special effects (i.e. extended techniques?) that he employees in the flute and horn. There are a lot of flutterings and shadings in the sounds. I love this- it adds another depth of life into the music. I like the comings and goings of the musical lines- piano descends, oboe ascends, vice versa and criss-crosses...kriss-kross.
Did you know instead of sitting "Indian Style" it is now in public schools called "Kriss-Kross-Apple-Sauce? That is the polite/politically correct way of asking to sit a certain way.
Secondly, aside from the sounds, there seems to be a story told throughout the entire piece. I have only really listened to this piece hundreds of times, but have delved nearly zero percent into his compositional process or reasonings for this work. Lot's of jazz and sass with Poulenc's story- and some film noire smokiness going on....
I make up a story- where the oboe is the snake, the bassoon is the crocodile or alligator, the horn is the regal stork or owl, the flute is the faster sort of bayou bird, and clarinet is sort of a duck creature, perhaps snapping turtle, and the piano is the entire mangrove swamp, or bayou area. Perhaps, the piano is the pontoon boat- or maybe the big crocodile... I love how all these “animals” intertwine and have dialogues with one another- it is a hugely conversational piece. Fellowship hour for the musicians. The "animals" seem to want to discuss and be tender, and sometimes they want to fly about and swim and gyrate...My southern upbringing might cloud this French delight with story, alas, the magic of this, is if you prefer to write your own story, then you do you, live your own narrative, you are who you want to be. #selfhelp
Curiouser and curiouser, with my kleptomania of other pianist’s ideas, I haven’t absorbed too much of Poulenc’s harmonies, though, his phrasing and mingling of lines- are something I try to incorporate into my own improvisations, yet not to an extent that I consciously try/tried to parse. Considering Poulenc, while being in my top five composers whose complete oeuvre that I love all of it, his style hasn't absorbed into my psyche, although I have never consciously tried to leach anything from his writing, I have just been a fan. Usually my highest praise for a composer is to imitate their music, and today as of 9 a.m. re-visiting this blog to re-write, I don't believe I have ever executed an opportunity to imitate much of his compositional elements.
I have played, and performed on many occasions Francis Poulenc’s “Sonata for Oboe and Piano” & “Sonata for Flute and Piano.” The first piano concerto that I ever spent time learning was of Poulenc’s pen. I’ve performed the organ part to his “Gloria” a few times, and a number of his “chansons” which I pronounce “Chann-sowan” if you need the southern pronunciation. Perhaps I have absorbed more of his harmonic work than I understand at the moment. His modern chords and his syrupy romantic lines, and magical “wrong notes” that float in and out- pure delight. And, perhaps it is time for me to try to incorporate more of his ideology into my improvisations. I sure do love those French composers!
Poulenc's piano writing always seems slim and Gallic...hackneyed as that may sound. Where some composers relish and drown in comfortable close thickness in piano keys, Poulenc's writing, (while being pianistic most all of the time, and functional in the hands) is often spread apart, but the harmonies are thick and rich as well. Of course, I am generalizing. If I were to do a scholarly blog, I will reconsider.... I love the coolness of the temperature in Poulenc's writing, I like that instead of making warm heat, he just gives us the flame, sometimes a wild fire. Though, what I don't find in his music is sweet or genuine sentimentality. I WANT to hear it (sentimentality in his music) then I think of the slow movement from his flute sonata, and the story of the tramp lady...or is that something I imagined?
Okay- I’m obsessed with irony right now- my thoughts now have a name, I don’t know why I haven’t figured that out earlier in my life. I love all of Poulenc’s music that I have listened to, and no doubt that is most, if not all of it.
I borrowed this from: https://www.windrep.org/Sextour
The Sextet is a chamber music composition written by Francis Poulenc for a standard wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn) and piano.
The piece is divided into three sections: I. Allegro vivace; II. Divertissement: Andantino; III. Finale: Prestissimo.
The first movement begins with upward scales by all instruments, before transferring into an energetic beginning section with complex rhythms, jazz undertones, and an underlying line from the pianist. In the middle of the movement is a slower section led in by a bassoon melody which is then repeated by the other instruments. The original tempo returns at the end of the movement.
The second movement is in a "slow-fast-slow" form. It has been seen as influenced by Classical period music and divertimentos as well as a parody of Mozart's slow movements. It uses a variety of textures in the woodwinds which are accompanied by piano. Orrin Howard of the Los Angeles Philharmonic viewed the fast interlude as a form of musical comic relief.
The finale begins with "an Offenbachian gallop"and is in rondo form. It has jazz and ragtime influences and has been interpreted as a satirical depiction of neoclassicism in music. The finale repeats themes from the previous two movements and ends with a lyrical and solemn coda with influences from Maurice Ravel.
- Program Note from Wikipedia
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