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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4
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: 2 minutes 5 seconds

'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)

Dernier poème, FP163
First line:
J’ai rêvé tellement fort de toi
composer
December 1956; dedicated to Youki Desnos
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Lisa Milne (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Introduction
This is the last poem of Robert Desnos, the poet who ended his life tragically in the concentration camp of Terezín, and is said to have been written on a cigarette paper shortly before his death and smuggled to his wife Youki—to whom Poulenc dedicates the song. The pathos of this story, whether true or not, threatens to overbalance music which is utterly sincere, delicately melancholic rather than tragic, not perhaps equal to the story and the circumstances of the poet’s demise. The setting has the advantage, even if it is not the greatest Poulenc, of the restraint and dignity typical of Desnos. The gentle sequences of the composer’s late style, contemporary with the Sonata for flute and piano, are attractive and touching, but when a Swiss critic said that it was the best thing that the composer had ever done, Poulenc’s response was ‘poor him, poor me’. It is left to the pianist and the four-bar postlude to leave ‘a truly tragic impression’ (Bernac), a dark intimation of violence or catastrophe.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013


Other albums featuring this work
'Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1' (SIGCD247)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00 SIGCD247  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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