Sonata For Flute And Piano: Allegretto Malincolico by Francis Poulenc
Poulenc is one of the great melodists of the twentieth century. He was a self-taught composer and was most noted for his melodies, grace, wit, irony, and sentiment. In the early 1920s he belonged to the Paris-based group of composers “Les Six” who led the neo-classical movement, rejecting the overstated emotion of Romanticism.
He composed music in all major genres, including art song, chamber music, oratorio, opera, ballet, and orchestral music.
Poulenc’s earlier works were light-hearted but following the death of a close friend in the 1930s, Poulenc rediscovered his Roman Catholic faith and replaced neo-classicism with a new-found spiritual depth.
Poulenc also struggled with his sexuality and manic depression which I believe is expressed in this Sonata. The phrases hover between foreboding and optimism and are very conversational throughout the first movement.
To best understand this Sonata, I believe it is beneficial to listen to a recording of Jean -Pierre Rampal playing it with Poulenc accompanying him on the piano. It is reputed to have been written for Rampal. The piano is very refined compared to many modern performances and gives great insight into his intentions for the piece.