It must be difficult for composers to write down sounds that they want others to hear. Performing Poulenc's Nocturnes and Novelettes this past week I have been struck by his mastery of this difficult skill.  He succeeds in bringing me close to a recognizable musical idiom - reminiscent of the songs of his time - then making me confront the barrier between internal and external listening.  
He insists that I pay attention to the many possible sources of illogic in music: even something as elemental as the piano's sound can get in its way, as crazy as that may seem.  It is the very lack of logic that makes it powerful.
Playing his music in the company of three other masters of the illogical was revealing:
J.S., C.P.E., and W.F. Bach.
 


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