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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: 4 minutes 18 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)

Trois chansons de F García Lorca, FP136
composer
1947
author of text
Canciones 1921-1924
translator of text

Introduction
Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) was one of the greatest of Spanish poets and playwrights, renowned for his lyrical vision and power. He was born near Granada, and his Andalusian roots (including his friendship with Manuel de Falla and his discovery of the cante jondo) are to be traced in much of his work. He was also a gifted pianist and painter, admired as much for his personality as for his prodigious literary talents. He was murdered by the Nationalists at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, whether on account of his political leanings or homosexuality, or both, is not certain. Without ever having met Lorca personally, Poulenc felt a profound affinity with the Spanish poet and dedicated his Violin Sonata (FP119, 1942) ‘à la mémoire de Federico García Lorca’.

All three of these are early poems by Lorca (in a translation by Félix Gattegno) and were included in Canciones 1921–1924, published in 1927. The section subheadings for each of the poems are: (i) ‘Au delà du monde’, (ii) ‘Andalouse’, and (iii) ‘Chansons pour finir’—indeed, the Chanson de l’oranger sec is the last poem in the collection. ‘What difficulty I have in proving musically my passion for Lorca!’, wrote Poulenc in JdmM. ‘My sonata for violin and piano … is, alas, very mediocre Poulenc, and these three songs are of little importance in my vocal work.’

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2' (SIGCD263)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2
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