Master class

Gérard Poulet, violinist and teacher

Private music lessons

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Cast

Gérard Poulet — Teacher, violinist

Renaud Capuçon — Violinist (student)

Thierry Huchin — Violinist (student)

Xavier Phillips — Violinist (student)

Marie Scheublé — Violinist (student)

Noël Lee — Pianist (student)

John Magnussen — Pianist (student)

Olivier Bernager — A collection by

François Manceaux — A collection by

Program notes

In this masterclass, Gérard Poulet generously shares his technical skills and his great experience of the classical, romantic and modern violin repertoires.

In this programme organised like a filmed notebook, the pianist, in the intimate surroundings of his home, modestly recounts episodes from his life, and gives three lessons for the camera. Thus we see him curbing the virtuoso excesses of a Japanese girl student and tactfully correcting one of his pupils at the Geneva Conservatoire, reminding her that the pedal must be used with moderation, the tempo flexible, the rubato controlled, and the phrasing analysed precisely. All this is communicated with charm, simplicity, and above all the tact of an experienced artist who has thought long and hard and has played almost everything. A man with an open mind: the twentieth century has no secrets for him. close to Stravinsky, Bartok, and Prokofiev, interested in Boulez and Stockhausen. Whatever the period or style, his interpretation always combines rigour and refinement.

Gérard Poulet taught a much sought-after violin class at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris. Unlike many other renowned artists, he does not regard teaching as more or less a necessary evil. On the contrary, it is a indispensable practice if one is to live to the full the condition of being a soloist. To pass on what he has received in a one-to-one relationship with his chosen pupils is a moral duty for this upright personality.

In direct language, with no attempt at ingratiation, sometimes acerbic and rather unsettling in his remarks, Gérard Poulet hunts down imperfections and corrects them. Technique is there only to serve the music, he explains, even in the most demanding Carpice of Paganini.

From these threee filmed lessons and the sketchy elements of a portrait, we come to realise that for this artist music is earned by means of effort, that it is not granted to everyone, that the chosen deserve only their share. There is something of Charles Péguy in this poet of the violin, intransigent, classical, severe and sincere.

Private music lessons: twelve hugely influential programmes broadcast by French television between 1987 and 1991. The guiding principle for Olivier Bernager and François Manceaux was to capture the art of the leading performers of our time, live in concert but also and above all in a teaching environment.

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