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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4
Recording details: January 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 11 minutes 23 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)

Poèmes de Ronsard, FP38
composer
December 1924 to January 1925
author of text

Other recordings available for download
William Dazeley (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Introduction
Poulenc set these poems during the four-hundredth anniversary of Ronsard’s birth, but not early enough in 1924 to feature in the special Ronsard number of La revue musicale featuring newly commissioned settings of the poet by Dukas, Roussel, Caplet, Honegger, Delage and Ravel. The dying Fauré had also intended to contribute a song to that collection.

After the success of the ballet Les biches in Monte Carlo in 1924 Poulenc was already a celebrity, and the fame of each of these songs’ dedicatee-singers demonstrates that the composer already stood at the centre of Parisian music-making. It was also not every twenty-five-year-old who could persuade Picasso to design a cover, a Klee-like design with lines and dots in the shape of a viol or lute. So why are these Ronsard songs so seldom sung? Perhaps because the composer himself consistently gave them a bad press, and more or less renounced them. He felt in retrospect that the influence of Charles Koechlin, his teacher at the time, was not beneficial. In fact, as Robert Orledge has shown, Koechlin taught Poulenc a great deal, but the younger composer preferred his earlier Le bestiaire style, and saw his Koechlin period, perhaps unfairly, as a deviation from his ‘natural’ self.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013


Other albums featuring this work
'Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4' (SIGCD323)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 48 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 48 kHz £9.00 SIGCD323  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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