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    RBC Concerto Series Review – Francis Poulen for two Pianos

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    April 1st, 2022, pianist Jiayi Chen and Tianshun Lin held a concert at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, performing Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra.

    (Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc) was born on January 7, 1899, in Paris, and died on January 30, 1963, due to heart failure in Paris. Poulenc, who entered the music world through his piano studies, wrote a large amount of excellent piano works throughout his life. ‘Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor’ is one of two concertos he composed in response to an invitation from the renowned art patron, Princess Edmond de Polignac, and was completed in 1932.

    The form of the concerto for two pianos, in itself, evokes the works of Bach and Mozart, who pioneered this unique musical genre. Poulenc inherited the lively dialogue between the two instruments from his predecessors, and skillfully employed the classical music language in the slow movement. Meanwhile, the imitation of the Balinese gamelan’s sound in the first movement’s finale, which was a novelty in Paris at the time, added an exotic and mystical touch to the piece. This blend of styles and influences turned the concerto into a remarkable artistic fusion, structured in the traditional classical concerto form of three movements:

    1. Allegro ma non troppo – in D minor.
    2. Larghetto – in B-flat major.
    3. Allegro molto – in D minor.

    Pianist Victor Sangiorgio has made the following remarks about this concert:

    “From the outset there was a notable sense of cohesion and largely seamless ensemble between the two pianos and the orchestra. The blending and matching of the individual piano textures was skillfully done by both soloists.

    In the first movement, The Lento section had a great sense of poetic nuance by both players and in the case of primo, there had very much flexibility within the shaping of the phrases; secondo shown more imagination in the voicing of chords.

    In the slow movement, primo created very good balance within voicing and secondo used some lovely sensitive rubato, though there was some inconsistency with the cohesion of tempi between the two pianos. Elsewhere, primo might have allowed a little more repose before entries.

    The last movement was deftly handled and suitably exciting, but there might have been a little more overall clarity in the faster digital passages by both players.

    Despite some reservations as to the freedom and visual spontaneity of the presentation, this was, overall, a very convincing performance by both soloists, with a sense of occasion, generally excellent fluency and a clear understanding of the music.”

    Overall, both pianists Jiayi Chen and Tianshun Lin performed this piece in a way that reflected their understanding of the piece and their talent. This concert not only showcased their outstanding talent and charm as pianists, but also brought an unforgettable musical journey to the audience.

    Global Musicians' League
    Global Musicians' League
    Global Musicians' League (GML) is a vibrant and innovative music media and management company, rooted in a rich heritage of musical excellence and inspiration.
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