“The primary aim of French music is to give pleasure.” This was the polemic thesis by Claude Debussy at the beginning of the last century. He is the founder of musical impressionism and one of the most influential French composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Refined taste, elegance of melodic pattern, linear purity of voice leading, along with colorful harmony – for all the variety of styles and directions that have engulfed the 20th century French music, these qualities unite French composers of different generations. The clearest purity of the French style was, perhaps, manifested in chamber instrumental music.
The concert program is a kind of French music digest for woodwind instruments. There was increased “demand” for wind timbres among the majority of composers of the last century. But in France, they always had a special meaning (both as a “coloring” of symphony orchestra and as solo instruments).
A new page of musical art began from the mysterious, mystical solo flute from Debussy’s “Afternoon of the Faun”. The solo flute play “Syrinx” (“Flûte de Pan”) was an original musical adaptation of the ancient legend. This work was connected with the sad history about the god Pan who falls in love with Syrinx, a beautiful nymph. The virtuoso rhapsody for clarinet was composed by Debussy be request from the Paris Conservatoire (as an obligatory examination play for students). Its virtuoso-colorful character can evoke a variety of pictorial associations.
Maurice Ravel – an outstanding contemporary and successor to Debussy – often turned to folklore sources. The “Vocalise-Étude en forme de Habanera” was composed in 1907, the most characteristically Spanish year for Ravel. Spanish rhapsody and The Spanish Hour opera were completed in the composition. The small cycle “Two Jewish Melodies” is based on authentic tunes; the first one, “Kadish”, is a Jewish traditional memorial prayer. The original version for voice with piano exists in concert practice in a variety of instrumental transcriptions.
The concert will be opened by a neoclassical sonatina concert for oboe and piano by Pierre Sancan, one of the leading French composers, pianists and piano teachers of the second half of the 20th century. The second section of the program will feature two chamber ensembles by Francis Poulenc, one of the most popular French composers. “I don’t know of any other music that would act as directly, that would be just as simple to express and reach the objectives with the same infallibility,” Darius Milhaud, his contemporary and colleague, wrote about Poulenc’s compositions. Sonata for flute and piano is one of the composer’s last instrumental cycles. It was written for the eminent French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. The trio for oboe, bassoon and piano is a sample of Poulenc’s early work; first sounded in 1927, the trio came to the spotlight for its bright melodic generosity, simplicity and freshness of musical language.
The concert will be featuring outstanding contemporary performers who have arrived in Sochi as soloists and teachers, and are passing skills and experience to the younger generation. They are:
Emily Beynon (flute): soloist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Christian Schmitt (oboe): Professor at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart.
Harri Maki (clarinet): Professor at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, soloist of the Tapiola Sinfonietta orchestra.
Carlo Colombo (bassoon): Professor at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Lyon and Professor at Lausanne Conservatory.
Irina Zahharenkova: famous Estonian pianist, winner of international competitions.