Francis Poulenc: Mélancolie
Composed in war-torn France in 1940, Francis Poulenc’s Mélancolie for solo piano certainly added a glimmer of light into the composer’s archives. One of Poulenc’s longest works for the piano, Mélancolie features a range of different moods and techniques that Poulenc had used in previous works. The work is known for its improvisatory nature, although it is quite strictly scored. It remains one of Poulenc’s most popular solo piano works today.
Opening with a wistful melody, harking back to the stylings of Ravel and Chopin, the rippling accompaniment hand adds a twist on the melody. The music is nostalgic in character, with melodies being revisited and developed further. The constant movement accentuates the rippling effects creating waves of music as the two hands play opposing themes. Poulenc fluctuates between the minor and major keys, which adds a tinge of emotion into the piece that will tug on your heartstrings. These small gems of hope keep the music moving forward, even if it is thinking about the past. Poulenc was a fascinating character, and this bleeds into his music, with the dichotomy between the wistful and intense characters. It is of course no surprise that a work like this was composed during the war.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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