BOULANGER Lili, Two Pieces for Violin & Piano
Lili Boulanger was the sister of the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger who taught Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter and Philip Glass amongst others. She was a composer for the last 10 years of her tragically short life – she died at 25 – and her music stands in the main line of French music exemplified by Faure, somewhat tinged with the influence of Debussy’s Impressionism. It is generally beautiful, delicately coloured, and touching. These challenging ‘Two Pieces for Violin and Piano’ exemplify these qualities.
The Nocturne begins sparsely, with bare octave figures wound about with a theme built from a repetitive rise-and-fall figure. As the texture becomes thicker the violin becomes more virtuosic and begins to climb. There is no harmonic resolution until the final ppp note in the top register, which is answered by an low octave from the piano.
The Cortege is more lively without being fast. Shifting rhythmic accents, tricky runs and contrasting dynamics make this an exciting piece.