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Sonata "Undine" by Carl Reinecke, Op.

167
The Sonata was inspired by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's "Undine" (1811), a romantic fairytale
related with the Germanic mythology. The story is about the daughter of the King of the Sea,
Undine, who leaves the ocean looking for a human love that will give her an immortal soul. A
fisherman finds her on the coast and decides to bring her up with his wife as their child. Grown she
falls in love with the knight Hulbrand and soon they get married. Althoug he finds out Undine's real
identity he swears her eternal love. But Undine's uncle, Kuhleborn admonishes her: if ever
Hulbrand will be unfaithful she will have to return to the sea and he'll have to die. Their life
together is beatiful until his last sweetheart starts to woo him; he can't avoid the temptation and
finally falls. The doom has won, both are ruined...aquatic spirits exact their revenge and the poor
Undine must kill her husband with a fatal kiss. In the first movement Reinecke represent the
seaworld, the home of Undine; the second one describes her childhood with the human family; in
the Andante tranquillo appears the love theme with a rough trio: the prophecy of Kuhleborn; In the
dramatic and intensely expressive Finale are represented the betrayal of Hulbrand, the spirit rage
and the suffering of Undine; finally appears a reminescence of the youth happiness of the girl and
the remark that in spite of everything her human life was rewarding.

La Sonata Undine, Op 167 di Carl Reinecke è una sonata per flauto e pianoforte composta nel
1882. Nel 1885 l'autore ne pubblicò anche una versione per clarinetto e pianoforte.
La sonata si basa sulla fiaba Undine di Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, un racconto romantico del
1811 che narra la tragica storia di una Ondina, spirito acquatico del folclore germanico. Undine,
figlia del Re del Mare, abbandona il suo ambiente per cercare un amore umano che le consentirà di
ottenere un'anima immortale. Ritrovatasi bambina sulla terra, viene allevata da un pescatore e da
sua moglie. Cresciuta, trova l'amore nel cavaliere Hulbrand, che presto sposa. Hulbrand, anche
dopo essere venuto a conoscenza della vera natura di Undine, le giura amore eterno. Lo zio di
Undine, Kuhleborn, la mette in guardia contro il suo amore umano: se mai subirà un torto da
Hulbrand, lei dovrà tornare al mare per sempre e lui dovrà morire. La loro vita insieme sarebbe
felice, ma la ex fidanzata di Hulbrand interviene a guastare l'idillio, finché Hulbrand torna al
vecchio amore ed arriva a trattare male Undine. Questo segna il destino di entrambi: gli spiriti
dell'acqua esigono la loro vendetta e dovrà essere proprio Undine a uccidere Hulbrand con un bacio
mortale.
Nel primo movimento è rappresentato il mondo sottomarino in cui vive Undine; il secondo
movimento rappresenta la sua "infanzia" sulla terra; Il terzo movimento è il tema dell'amore con
Hulbrand, con un intermezzo agitato che rappresenta la minaccia di Kuhleborn; Il drammatico
finale vede il tradimento di Hulbrand, la rabbia e la vendetta degli spiriti, il dolore di Undine.

Article By Hilary Bromeisl


Carl Reinecke's Sonata in E minor is based on the German romantic tale found in the 19th century
novel Undine. Written by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque in 1811, the novel made a great impact on
it's readers and it is no surprise that the story became the inspiration for music, ballets, plays, art,
and poetry.
The tale centers around the water spirit Undine, daughter of the King of the Sea. Sea maidens are
lovelier and longer-lived than their mortal counterparts, living peacefully in crystal palaces deep
beneath the waves. The one thing the water spirits lack, and Undine longs for, is an immortal soul.
The only way a water spirit can obtain an immortal soul is through uniting in love with a mortal
man.
The first movement of the sonata portrays Undine in her underwater world. The deep murmuring
and shallow splashing of water surrounds the occasional melody depicting Undine's desire to a soul.
Undine leaves the water Kingdom in search for love with a mortal man and is discovered as a child
on the seashore by a fisherman and his wife. The loving couple raises Undine as a much-loved
daughter, though puzzled by her inexplicable behavior and naughtiness.
The second movement musically paints a picture of Undine's life with her foster parents. It begins
with a musical chase between the flute and piano which seems to subside only when the flute "gives
in," only to start up again in the same unpredictable way. The piano's carefree folk-like solo section
may be interpreted as her parent's bewilderment and acceptance of Undine's impulsive actions.
In time, Undine finds love when she meets knight Hulbrand, who seeks shelter with her and her
parents from a raging storm one day. The feeling is mutual and they soon marry. The wonder
surrounding Undine's awakening to love can be heard in the relaxing flute melody inserted before
the final burst of energy in this movement.
Following her wedding night, Undine confesses to her new husband she is a water spirit, and thanks
him for the gift he unknowingly gave her through marriage. She then volunteers to free him of the
marriage if he chooses. Hulbrand instead swears undying love and commitment to Undine and they
begin a life of contentment together. The beauty of the Andante movement easily unites with this
part of the story. Not too much time passes when Undine's man-distrusting uncle Kuhleborn visits
with a warning. Appointing himself guardian of his niece's honor, he tells Undine that if Hulbrand
ever raises his hand or voice against her, the pride of the water spirits will not let her continue her
life with him, and if his love ever strays from her, he must die. This threat is clearly heard in the
disruptive whirl of notes inserted towards the end of the third movement, which gently returns to
the mood created before the interruption.
Undine's trust in people and the goodness of her heart allows her to consider Hulbrand's scheming
and arrogant former fiancee Berthalda her best friend. Hulbrand and Undine move to the knight's
castle at Ringstettin and they take in Berthalda as a sort of permanent house guest. Hulbrand
becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his wife's unworldly goodness and her communication
with the water spirits, and he eventually is drawn back to his first love. Urged by Berthalda,
Hulbrand loses his temper with Undine and she is forced to return to life in the sea. Hulbrand turns
to Berthalda for comfort and eventually agrees to marry her.
The finale movement is the most dramatic and incorporates Hulbrand's scolding, Undine's vain
pleading, and the anger and revenge of the water spirits. Despite her anguished appeals, Undine
must herself be the instrument of Hulbrand's punishment. At the wedding of Hulbrand and
Berthalda, Undine sadly appears and gives Hulbrand a kiss that kills him. At the knight's funeral,
Undine secretly joins the mourners. She then vanishes and in her place appears a spring of water
from which two small streams encircle the new grave. The return of the loving theme used for the
love Undine first felt for Hulbrand creates a touching mood to end the sonata.

POULENC
The Sonate pour flûte et piano (Flute Sonata), FP 164, by Francis Poulenc, for flute and piano,
was written in 1957. It is dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, an American
patron of chamber music. Poulenc composed it for the flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, and he and
Rampal gave the première in June 1957 at the Strasbourg Music Festival. It is now one of Poulenc's
best known works and is a prominent feature in 20th century flute repertoire.

Sources indicate that Poulenc had had the idea to compose a flute sonata for a long time, which can
be dated back to the year 1952 in a letter to the baritone Pierre Bernac. Throughout the next few
years, Poulenc had intended to resume the work as stated in his letters to his publisher in 1953, 1955
and 1956.
However, it is unknown whether this planned sonata is directly related to the published sonata. In
April 1956, Harold Spivacke, a spokesperson for the Coolidge Foundation at the Library of
Congress, wrote a letter to Poulenc offering a commission for a piece of chamber music for a
festival going to take place in October 1956. Poulenc declined the commission soon as he was just
finishing the orchestration of his new opera and the première in Milan was too close. Spivacke
again offered the commission in May, and this time Poulenc responded in August when he noted
that the opera was in order and he could write something for him. He suggested the Sonata for Flute
and Piano, provided that he could reserve the première for the Strasbourg Festival in June 1957.
Jean-Pierre Rampal learned about the sonata in a phone call from Poulenc. The occasion was
marked in his autobiography:
"Jean-Pierre," said Poulenc: "you know you've always wanted me to write a sonata for
flute and piano? Well, I'm going to,' he said. 'And the best thing is that the Americans
will pay for it! I've been commissioned by the Coolidge Foundation to write a chamber
piece in memory of Elizabeth Coolidge. I never knew her, so I think the piece is yours."

Poulenc wrote the piece in Cannes between December 1956 and March 1957, and the completed
manuscript was mailed to the Library of Congress on 7 June 1957. On 17 June 1957, an unofficial
première was given at the Strasbourg Festival by the composer and Rampal - with only one
audience member, Arthur Rubinstein, who requested to hear it one day before the official première
as he was going to leave before it.
On 16 January 1958, Poulenc played the work with Gareth Morris in a broadcast on BBC. The
American première took place in the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on 14
February 1958. It was reported to be a rousing success.

Music
The sonata is in three movements:
1. Allegretto malincolico - This movement starts in 2
4 and with the characteristic four demisemiquaver run in the flute part, which is repeated
throughout the piece. It contains double tonguing, and some tricky fingerwork in places. It
also features Poulenc's trademark motif in the middle section, and ends quietly, leading into
the second, slower movement. This movement has an equivalent standard to an ABRSM
grade 8 piece, and, at the time of writing, is included in the listed pieces for this grade.
2. Cantilena: Assez lent - This movement is much slower and quieter. It begins with two
quavers on the piano, which are echoed by the flute during the course of the next two bars.
The haunting tune features minimal decoration, and is accompanied by flowing quavers on
the piano. In the middle of the piece, the atmosphere suddenly changes to loud high notes on
the flute, reaching a top B. However soon after it returns to the original slow tune. This
movement has an equivalent standard to an ABRSM grade 7 piece, and, at the time of
writing, is included in the listed pieces for this grade
3. Presto giocoso - This movement is predominantly loud and fast, and Poulenc's "trademark
motif" mentioned above reappears in the contrasting central section.
The whole sonata appears in the listings for many flute diplomas, including ABRSM and Trinity
Guidhall.
Program Notes
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Flute Sonata (1956-57)
Notes for: July 19, 2016
Francis Poulenc is now considered one of the 20th century’s leading French composers. During the
first 50 years of his life, there was a tendency in professional musical circles to downgrade his
music. In a period of atonality and other experimentation, he wrote in a simple musical style, which
unsophisticated listeners could understand. Since World War II, musicians and critics have had
second thoughts about Poulenc’s work. Mainly, this reassessment has occurred due to The
Dialogues of the Carmelites, his opera about a group of doomed nuns in the French Revolution,
which has become a staple of the opera repertory. But a number of his other works — the Concert
Champêtre for harpsichord and orchestra, his piano pieces, his instrumental sonatas and chamber
music, and his songs — also assure him a permanent place in 20th century music.
Poulenc first won recognition as a member of Les Sixes, a group of rebellious French composers
that also included Darius Milhaud. The group’s primary bond was a common reaction against the
emotionality of César Franck and his disciples, and the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. These
French composers, in the group’s judgment, had abandoned the classic French principles of restraint
and clarity. To restore these Gallic elements, each member of Les Sixes went his or her own way.
Poulenc’s style can perhaps best be defined by his own analysis: “I’m a melancholy person who
loves to laugh like all melancholy persons.” As suggested by this paradox, there are two
contradictory strains in his music — one of wit, even sardonic humor and irony; the other of
melancholy, even tragedy as in The Dialogues of the Carmelites. Beyond these conflicting strains,
his music is marked by the use of spare harmony and dissonance, a search for new combinations of
instrumental sound, a sense of elegance and a gift for melody.
When it came to chamber music, Poulenc much preferred the sound of wind instruments to the
sound of strings. Of his thirteen chamber works, ten involved no string instruments at all other than
the piano. Furthermore, he made a study of wind instruments, and his writing for them was skillful
and idiomatic, exploring both their tonal resources and expressive possibilities. He also had a sure
grasp of how to combine the winds effectively with one another and with a piano. Building on this
lifelong interest, in the late 1950s Poulenc conceived the idea of writing four sonatas, one for each
of the standard woodwind instruments – the flute, the clarinet, the oboe and the bassoon – with
piano accompaniment. He finished the first three, but suffered a sudden fatal heart attack before he
could write the fourth.
The flute sonata was written in the winter of 1956-57 on commission from the Elizabeth Sprague
Coolidge Foundation at the U.S. Library of Congress. It was first performed at the Scarborough
Festival in June 1957, by flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and Poulenc, and they played it frequently until
Poulenc’s death six years later. In 1959, in fact, Poulenc selected the sonata for a 60th birthday
concert of his favorite compositions.
The sonata reflects Poulenc’s contrasting moods of melancholy and joy; the first movement is
appropriately titled Allegro malinconico and the mood is mournful. But the melancholy is
intermittent and offset by a middle section in better humor. Note at the outset the little rhythmic
pattern of four 32nd notes followed by a quarter note; this pattern is repeated again and again,
giving the music a flowing character.
The slow movement is an extended song for the flute — slow in tempo but more introspective than
depressed. The third movement is completely lively and spirited, with references to the main theme
of the first movement and its rhythmic figure.