Debussy’s Sonata for Violin and Piano holds a unique but sad place in his output; it was his last completed work, and he performed the piano part at its premiere in 1917 with the violinist Gaston Poulet (left). It was Debussy’s last public performance.
I can’t offer you a Youtube recording of Debussy and Gaston Poulet. But here is the next best thing – Poulet’s son, Gérard, playing the opening – and then there are clips of him teaching young violinists.
The DVD from which this clip comes also features Gérard Poulet telling anecdotes about the Sonata, gleaned no doubt from his father (both pictured, right). Debussy met Gaston Poulet because the quartet which he led performed Debussy’s String Quartet.
Debussy had planned a set of six sonatas, but only three were completed; as well as the one for violin and piano, there is one for cello and piano, and one for flute, harp and viola. All are standard repertoire.
The violin sonata has three movements: Allegro vivo; Intermède: (Fantasque et léger) and a Finale: Très animé.
The first movement opens with a melancholy theme based on falling thirds, which returns in the Finale. The second movement is bright and capricious. It’s a short work – below is David Oistrakh, with Frida Bauer in a live performance Enjoy!