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Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp (1915-16)

The second of Debussy's final three sonatas, for Flute, Viola and Harp, was finished in 1916 and described by the composer as "so terribly melancholy that I can't say whether one should laugh or cry. Perhaps both?" It brings up inevitable images of Melisande weeping at the fountain, which certainly accounts for the melancholy. In any case, the interlocking of the three instruments in this work is masterfully accomplished, with the flute primarily responsible for the fluidity and momentum of the entire work, which has been accurately described as a "sonata in a single piece, a triptych of a single whole."

Shirley Fleming

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