BOULANGER Nadia, Three pieces for cello and piano
Sans vitesse et à l’aise
Vite et nerveusement rythmé
Nadia Boulanger, teacher, conductor, early music pioneer and trusted adviser to the likes of Stravinsky and Poulenc, was also a gifted composer. Fiercely self-critical, she always claimed her own music was nothing like as significant as that of her brilliant younger sister, Lili, but with the rediscovery of Nadia’s music it has become clear that she was a remarkable talent in her own right. She entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of nine and subsequently studied composition with Fauré. Most of her music dates from between 1904 and 1918 (the year Lili died), including the Three Pieces for cello and piano, composed in 1914 and first published the following year. The first, in E flat minor, presents a song-like melody on the cello over a hushed piano part marked doux et vague. After a brief climactic central section, the opening music returns for a serene close in E flat major. The second piece, in A minor, treats a deceptively simple tune – almost a folksong – in an ingenious canon between the cello and the piano. The last piece, in C sharp minor, is quick, with a middle section that provides a contrast in both rhythm and texture to the playful but muscular mood of the rest.
Nigel Simeone © 2022