Works for Violin and Piano by French Composers, 1870-1950
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During the first half of the nineteenth century, French composers primarily wrote vocal music; few of them composed works for violin and piano. From about 1870, French composers turned their attention to the violin-piano repertoire, producing some of the greatest works of the genre. Three distinctive compositional styles arose in France from 1870 to 1950: the Cosmopolitan Style, the Classic French Style, and Impressionistic Style. A fourth "style," which we can only label "other," borrows from the techniques and flavors of the other three. Cesar Franck and Guillaume Lekeu were representatives of the Cosmopolitan Style, in which composers developed their themes in traditional ways, but expanded standard homophonic texture with contrapuntal methods and cyclical forms. Camille Saint-Saens, Gabriel Faure and Germaine Tailleferre represent French Classicism, with extreme refinement, melodic purity, and extreme nobility and a classical sense of structure. Instead of overt displays of emotion they used sophisticated colors and delicate patterns of tones with perfect clarity of texture and form. Claude Debussy and Francis Poulenc illustrate Impressionism by using of unresolved dissonance and uncommon scales such as whole tone, modal and pentatonic. The music evokes moods and atmospheres through rich and varied harmonies and tone colors. Ravel and Milhaud applied such fresh elements as folk songs, dance rhythms, and multiple tonal centers into their personal styles. In his Tzigane, Ravel utilizes powerful gypsy tunes and rhythms. Milhaud's Saudades do Brazil combine the flavor of Brazilian popular music with polytonal harmonies. In three recitals, I strove to illustrate what common features are shared by each composer in each compositional style and how each selected composer individually developed them. In my first recital, I performed works by Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud with pianist, Hyun-Jung Kim and Cesar Franck with pianist, Eunae KO. My second recital that was assisted by pianist, Hyun-Jung IOm featured three violin sonatas written by Claude Debussy, Gerrnaine Tailleferre, and Camille Saint-Saens. With pianist, Eun-Jung Shon, I performed violin sonatas by Guillaume Lekeu and Gabriel Faure and Tzigane by Maurice Ravel for my third recital.