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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4

Main dominée par le cœur, FP135

August 1946
author of text
Le main le cœur le lion le oiseau, from Poésie et vérité 1942

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: May 2011
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 1 minutes 21 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Thomas Oliemans (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)


'Johnson's playing is marvellous, virtuosic where needed, but above all attuned to every nuance of his singers. This really is a multifaceted release: the blending of the art forms that was characteristic of Poulenc's time, where poets were absorbed by painters, and composers by poets, alongside the 15 singers gathered on these discs, together with the chameleon-like nature of Poulenc's own genius, all make for an enterprise of dazzling complexity. The recording quality is exemplary, combining clarity with a perfect bloom on the piano sound' (International Record Review)

'There are some outstanding performances: Christopher Maltman's account of Miroirs brûlants and La fraîcheur et le feu (both based on Eluard), and the Calligrammes (on Apollinaire's texts) are worth the price on their own, while Sarah Fox is just as persuasive in Les chemins de l'amour as she is in Tel jour telle nuit. There are telling contributions, too, from Ailish Tynan, Susan Bickley and Ben Johnson, and a brief appearance in the Quatre chansons pour enfants by the English grande dame of French song Felicity Lott. Touchingly, one work also features the voice of baritone Pierre Bernac, Poulenc's recital partner, for whom many of the songs were composed; he's the narrator in a 1977 recording of L'histoire de Babar and the whole set is dedicated to his memory. It's a gorgeous collection, and for sometime Poulenc sceptics like me, a real revelation' (The Guardian)» More

'Especially enjoyable is the final disc, subtitled Fancy. Soprano Susan Bickley is superb in Poulenc’s early Poèmes de Ronsard—sparky settings of Renaissance poetry, and Ashley Riches has fun with the better-known Chansons gaillardes. The Huit chansons polonaises, sung by Agnieszka Adamczak, pay oblique homage to Poulenc’s beloved Chopin. There’s not a weak link among the vocal cast, and there’s even a cameo from the great Felicity Lott. A wonderful bonus is the inclusion of a 1970s BBC taping of Babar, narrated with impeccable grace and wit by Poulenc’s long-time recital partner Pierre Bernac. Johnson’s accessible, comprehensive notes deserve to be published in book form, and Hyperion generously provide full texts and translations. These songs will comfort the most jaded of palates, and this box set contains enough riches to sustain a lifetime’s listening. In Johnson’s words, Poulenc’s music 'has seemed dark and joyous, accessible and remote, imperishable yet infinitely fragile, and now it is in the hands of a younger generation'.' (TheArtsDesk.com)
Éluard's own heading for this closing poem of Poésie et vérité 1942 was La main le cœur le lion l’oiseau. The marking is Très allant and the accompaniment is in non-stop semiquavers, hectic on paper perhaps, but sharing with a number of the other masterpieces inspired by the same poet a kind of genial calm, an unfolding of music that is ardent at the same time as being above the fray—a gnomic pronouncement. Poulenc, in a letter to Bernac, admitted that the tempo was modelled on Fauré’s Le don silencieux, one of that composer’s most inscrutably beautiful songs. Poulenc has carefully worked out a chain of harmonic progressions that mirrors the word-journey (‘main’ back to ‘main’) traced in the poem’s first seven lines. This is one of the most graceful and sinuous of the Éluard songs, nine bars in three flats, in the minor key, the remainder basking in the sunlight of naturals. The closing section (to the words ‘Les yeux purs la tête inerte’) is swathed in graceful arpeggio arabesques, the piano imitating the melody of the vocal line after a gap of two bars; this leads to one of the most satisfying codas of any of the Poulenc songs where gentle cascades of pianism lead to an immensely satisfying, and sumptuously extended, C major cadence.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Other albums featuring this work

Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3
Studio Master: SIGCD272Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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