Sonata in G Major for the violin and piano, M 77, 1st and 2nd movement
Professor Gérard Poulet and student Wakana Noguchi work on the Sonata in G Major for violin by French composer Maurice Ravel.
Poulet first instructs his student to pay close attention to her lack of rhythmic unity. The student must practice with a metronome to make sure she is respecting Ravel’s punctuation of 76 to a dotted quarter note. Moreover, Noguchi is told to play in harmony with the piano and orchestra. She is also encouraged to play more virtuoso so that the violin stays at the centre of the sonata. Overall, she must play simply, calmly and find the sensitive, sentimental nature of the piece.
Additional points concerning bowing techniques and the vibrato are addressed.
Finding a rhythmic unity.
Maintaining the intended tempo.
Emitting a French sound.
Discovering the sensitive, soft side of the piece.
Posture of the bow and body.
This piece has a very French 'perfume' to it, like most French music. It is nearly impossible to explain but one only needs an example and people understand right away.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Gérard Poulet’s feedback and comments.
At the age of 18, he won the 1st Grand Prix of the Paganini Competition in Genoa.
Gérard Poulet began as a child prodigy. His father, violinist and conductor Gaston Poulet had the privilege of premiering Debussy’s Sonata in 1917, with the author at the piano. Gérard entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris at the age of eleven, and graduated two years after being awarded First Prize, unanimously. At age eighteen, he won the First Prize at the Paganini Competition in Genoa.
He performs worldwide today with the finest orchestras, and in the most prestigious musical seasons, including that of Radio France and the Musée d’Orsay. No less than an eminent concert player, he is one of the greatest pedagogues of our time. Since April 2005, Gérard Poulet has been an invited professor at Tokyo's National University of Fine Arts and Music, after teaching for many years at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, as well as at the Conservatoire National de Région de Paris, and the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. Presently, he is professor at the Showa University of Music in Japan since 2010.
In addition to giving masterclasses all over the world, he is also a member of many juries of major international competitions.
He was awarded with the Officier des Arts et Lettres in 1995 and Commandeur in 2019, as well as the Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite in 1999.
French composer Maurice Ravel was born in the French southwestern town of Ciboure in 1875. His parents moved to Paris shortly after his birth, and by age seven, Ravel began piano lessons. Five years later, at age twelve, he started composing. He was then admitted to the Conservatoire de Paris as a piano student, but was a very average student; he preferred composition. After graduating from the Conservatoire, he pursued his love for composition and was re-admitted to the prestigious musical institute, studying composition under Fauré.
In the 1900s, he adapted many of his piano compositions into orchestral works before WWI broke out in Europe. Ravel wanted to join, but was too old, and his health was not optimal. He nonetheless succeeded in being enlisted in 1915 as a lorry driver. The war changed him, like many soldiers who struggled to return to “normal” life. The 1920s were prolific for Ravel, as he composed many of his most famous pieces during that time. By the 1930s, he turned his attention to piano concertos.
Unfortunately, Ravel was in a traumatic taxi accident in 1932, which was not treated seriously, but seems to have precipitated an underlying cerebral condition. As his mental health deteriorated and the pain grew, he struggled to work and meet deadlines. In 1937, he had surgery to try and relieve some symptoms, but it only had temporary results, as he slipped into a coma soon after and died that same year at age 62.
Ravel's works list eighty-five works, including many incomplete or abandoned pieces. Among his most successful oeuvres are Boléro, Daphnis et Chloé, Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte, La Valse, Rhapsodie Espagnole, Gaspard de la nuit, Piano Concerto in G Major and Miroirs. He never married or had children and remained very private about his personal life, sparkling many rumors still unverified to this day. He is considered one of the most influential music figures of the 20th century, along with Debussy and Stravinsky.
Photo credit: BNF