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POULENC

Sonata for Piano and Violin | Mélancolie

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part One Chapter 3

How shall I relate that magical evening, Marietta? How shall I convey the glory of your concert? Why, by casting my gaze with the eye of the heart, by cocking my ear to the silence in the sound.

Look! You walk out from the wings with decided step, violin and bow in hand; the pianist, tall and equine, smiles as he mirrors your stride. What a handsome couple! The two of you stand in front of the acclaim, you ravishing in the red gown that hugs your body, he chic in his black jacket and open-neck shirt. A puffed-up handkerchief adorns his breast pocket; his abundant hair, a mop of dark curls, tumbles over the side of his head in a throwback to some other time. Who is this Matteo Balestieri? Look! Your hair tumbles off your shoulders as you bow into the applause. How is it, I wonder as you straighten up, your strapless gown doesn’t fall down?

Now shall I speak of how effortlessly your fingertips found the pitches of anxiety and fervour, how confidently your bow found a voice for the unpredictable, in Poulenc’s Sonata for Piano and Violin? No, I’ll simply observe that at the end, facing the ovation, there was a look on your face that seemed to say, ‘I came here to play, not for your applause’.

Shall I speak of the art of indirection, subtle and discreet, in Matteo’s solo turn? Shall I convey the elegant intimacy of Poulenc’s Mélancolie? No, I’ll simply say that when you returned from the shadows, you were immediately into the music, making a melody of the bare bones of a tune that Matteo offered you.

Jean-Louis Forain, The Singer in Pink, 1895