The Sonata for four hands, composed in 1918 (subsequently revised in 1939) can be classified as a miniature, despite its 'sonata' tag. Comprising three movements and lasting under six minutes in total, it fits, at best, a quite liberal definition of a sonata in the classical sense; more likely, Poulenc gave it this designation with tongue ensconced firmly in cheek. The Sonata’s rambunctious Prélude, naïve and sentimental Rustique, and Final bounding with joie de vivre betray the influence of Stravinsky, Satie, and even Emmanuel Chabrier. (Stravinsky nurtured the work in more ways than one. 'It was Stravinsky who got me published in London by Chester, my first publisher', Poulenc recounted, 'the publisher … of the Sonata for two clarinets, of my Duet Sonata; all those little beginner’s works, rather faltering, were published thanks to the kindness of Stravinsky, who was very much a father to me.') Like much of the four-hand repertoire, the Sonata requires deft coordination and navigation of the keyboard between the two players. Poulenc is rumored to have composed the work as an excuse to wrap fingers with a certain prepossessing student.
from notes by Patrick Castillo © 2016