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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4

… mais mourir, FP137

First line:
Mains agitées aux grimaces nouées
composer
October 1947
author of text
1932; Peu de vertu, from La vie immédiate

Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: March 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 35 seconds
 
Main dominée par le cœur
1

Other recordings available for download

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Reviews

'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 title for this poem in La vie immédiate (1932) was Peu de vertu, which was discarded by Poulenc who clearly searched Éluard’s work for a poem that he could set in memory of Nusch Éluard (he always misspells her name ‘Nush’) who had died suddenly in 1946. Poulenc was no doubt acutely aware of the fact that his old friend Paul Éluard was in a dire emotional state on account of this loss; indeed the composer may have seen the composition of … mais mourir as expressing his condolences to the poet whose work had done so much to shape his own. Poulenc remembered that Nusch had beautiful hands and alighted on this poem—although whether or not she herself inspired it fifteen years earlier is not clear. The song begins in E minor and ends in E major; the vocal line ranges unusually far and wide for an Éluard setting at this speed. There is a real independence between voice and piano; melodic shapes traced in the accompaniment have a life and eloquence of their own, as if the composer were thinking of hand movements at the piano as he wrote the music. In the last five bars (for the phrase ‘mais mourir’) it is the pianist who plays the final melody against a held vocal note, an effect that is suffused with tender melancholy.

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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